If you at all dabble in modern electronic or synth-heavy music, then Holodeck Records should be a name you’re familiar with. The Austin-based record label is a musician-owned and operated vinyl & cassette(and digital) sort of affair. It’s ran by members of S U R V I V E, Troller, Thousand Foot Whale Claw & Future Museums. You could say it’s a boutique record company, but that makes it sound elitist. On the contrary, Holodeck Records is the epitome of the DIY aesthetic. It’s a label created by artists for artists. It’s a home for musicians that couldn’t find a place to express themselves freely, and now they can. Daniel Lopatin’s Software Recording Company attempted to create a similar vibe, but he got too busy melting frontal lobes to keep up with the day to day of running a label. Holodeck is just as much a musical cooperative as it is a record label. They are becoming to modern electronic and heavy synth what labels like Creation and 4AD were to early 80s alternative.
Since its inception in 2012, Holodeck Records has hosted a bevy of talented musicians and their visions. Those visions are what make up the very first Holodeck compilation collection. Holodeck Vision One brings under one roof everything that makes Holodeck Records so unique. Styles as diverse as synth pop to abstract noise and psych rock to electronic dance music, they are all represented here in a masterful 2 1/2 hour listening experience. Holodeck Vision One is a mind-expanding sampler platter for the true musical explorer.
My prediction is that in 5 years(or maybe less) there will be a vinyl pressing of Holodeck Vision One. It’ll be an extremely limited 3 or 4 LP box set with intricate liner notes written by musical scholars regarding the label’s inception and insider details about artists like Dust Witch, Dallas Acid, Future Museums, Virgin Pool(love that name), Skullcaster and Sungod. Details regarding the songs included; like recording processes, studio notes, and enough gear porn to make Tape Op magazine look like a crumpled copy of Hustler. In years to come this will become a coveted vinyl set and one extremely important to electronic music, much like the Nuggets set was to the early days of psych.
I will own this, oh yes I will.
But until that day comes, this is an easily downloadable set of up and coming and well established musicians. To hit each one song by song would be madness, so let me just say there is no lulls and no weak points here. Holodeck Vision One is a solid 2 1/2 hours of hazy, mind-expanding electronic music for the listener with exquisite tastes.
Here is, however, a few highlights:
Omni Gardens: “Ceiling of the Mind” is a delicate slice of ambient/new age that has the sound of ice crystals forming on a pre-dawn window. It brings to mind the work of JD Emmanuel and Klaus Schulze in contemplation mode.
Michael C Sharp: “Blublocker” goes all Komische with his languid slab of synth goodness. There’s also elements of the avante classical movement of the early 70s with Terry Riley peeking thru the heady synth structures.
Curved Light: “Endgame Scenario” has a majestic quality to it. Dreamy, distant-sounding organ seems to hang in the air, like some Gothic and mystical cloud. The song shifts from a baroque chamber piece to something more spectral; futuristic even. It’s quite stunning.
Michael Stein: “No Standard” has a neo-futurist pop sound. It’s like Kraftwerk got heavy into bass and 808s. The ghostly, robotic vocals add a real air of eeriness.
Dust Witch: “Sister Planet” is the type of song that should pop up in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune films. These guys capture a certain kind of musical majesty that you don’t hear a whole lot these days. They’re definitely progressive rock with elements of cinematic sweeps and spins. This song in particular captures the best of Goblin’s film work, while also pulling in classic Genesis and even some Popol Vuh. If you haven’t heard of Dust Witch yet, welcome. They’re about to blow minds globally.
Future Museums: “Calcite” is a beautifully low key track, throwing in elements of Krautrock, synth pop, and ambient.
Norm Chambers: “Crossing Over” is just an eloquent piece of heavy synth. Atmospheric, melancholy, and envelopes you in its beautiful circuitry.
Windows1995: “Chills Hill” puts me in mind of Tangerine Dream, but if Froese were into post-rock. Has a very meditative feel to it as well. Gonna lay out a blanket underneath the darkening big sky and open my brain a bit to this.
Troller: “Rodan” is this noisy, sci-fi soundscape that feels like waking into some post-apocalyptic world. It’s like Mica Levi trapped inside a nuclear-powered oscillator. Quite stunning and overwhelming.
This isn’t even a third of the artists on this compilation. Artists like Dallas Acid, Joey, Automelodi, Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Virgin Pool, Sungod, Kyle Dixon, Samantha Glass, Bill Converse, and Skullcaster all seriously blow minds on this album. Not a dull moment here.
Holodeck Vision One is an epic listen. A glimpse into a music scene that is growing and thriving day by day. It’s a testament to the power of community and artists coming together for the greater purpose of creativity. It will blow your mind if you let it.
8.6 out of 10