Steve Moore is one of the best when it comes to heady and engrossing electronic music. Between his work in Zombi, his score work, and his original music released under his own name Moore has created a vast and engaing sound world that is truly unparalleled. From prog synth/bass/drum freakouts to deep space synth drifts to hard techno-driven dance tracks, Moore has done it all and done it extremely well.
An album I feel that is often overlooked and under-apprecicated is Steve’s 2013 cassette-only release Positronic Neural Pathways for VCO Recordings. Coming out between Zombi albums Escape Velocity(2011) and Shape Shift(2015) and amid a flurry of single releases and score work, Positronic Neural Pathways feels and sounds like a reprieve from the outside world. A drop into deep space bliss; heady synths creating a pocket of hazy tones and at time almost ambient sound that lull you into a gauzy state of being. It’s what I’d consider a minor electronic masterpiece.
With the exception of a few lucky fans who snagged that initial cassette run, the rest of us were left to enjoy this album’s wonders amid zeros and ones on a streamer. But now SFI Recordings has reissued this synth masterpiece on remastered vinyl(and brand new artwork by Telepath Design), giving us a second chance to listen to these amazing songs where they are best transmitted: from groove and needle.
I came late to Positronic Neural Pathways. I started my Steve Moore journey with Zombi’s Escape Velocity in 2013 and branched out from there. His score work came next and that was an obsession, tracking down everything I could and grabbing every soundtrack as it hit the physical plane. Then I finally began deep diving into Moore’s solo work and continued to be amazed and astounded at his output. Positronic Neural Pathways I came to much later, but once I heard it I was once again blown away. More subtle in nature, it was a series of these deep synth drifts you simply fell into. Meditative, complex, and locking into early Froese vibes, as well as the more modern Sinoia Caves’ The Enchanter Persuaded(the fact this has never been reissued on vinyl is a crime against humanity.)
Opener and title track “Positronic Neural Pathways” has an almost bossa nova electronic beat that sits under lush synthesizer and a touch of Rüdiger Lorenz’ laid back synth moods. It eases us into the album’s sonic mood. “Vertical Integration” has a nice n easy feel to it, all early 80s warmth and saturation.
Moore has this knack for capturing the feel and sound of the 80s synth tones, and not just those used in pop and rock music. He captures that sound we all grew up hearing(if you grew up in the late 70s/early 80s) on television spots, commercials, early NES games, and PBS. Hearing something like “Render Ghosts” puts me back in my parent’s home playing early RPG games till the wee hours of the morning, while simultaneously wanting to float in a sensory deprivation tank and regress to my primordial form.
“Uncertainty Elipse” has a kind of hard electro beat with synth tones that take me back to those mid-80s Cannon Films releases. You know, movies with titles like Missing In Action, American Ninja, and Invasion U.S.A. that usually starred Chuck Norris and a tired looking action star from the 50s. The films were a dime a dozen, but those scores always hooked you.
One of the highlights(among many) is the gorgeous “Timewave Zero”. A song that floats along on an ambient drift, carrying you into deep space for some serious meditative bliss. This track captures the cinematic magic of Moore’s future score work, in-particular his work on The Guest. And closing track “Forgotten Ancestors” is another absolute stunner which brings to mind Jeremy Schmidt’s Sinoia Caves project. Ominous drones and electronic wails give the impression of falling through time; an ether drip sonic trip into the beautiful unknown.
Positronic Neural Pathways is a music journey. An ethereal sonic gateway straight into your psyche. Steve Moore’s quiet masterpiece is here, waiting to rewire your brain. Drop the needle and take the journey. – J Hubner
Take heed, reader. Don’t sleep on this album. Grab ‘Positronic Neural Pathways’ on vinyl from SFI Recordings today. Otherwise you’ll have to wait another 20 years when someone new comes along and reissues it on 8-track or MiniDisc.