Xander Harris : Termination Dust

I try to get in as many great albums as I can throughout the year. I’m always searching for another record that’s going to blow my mind sky high and make me examine the world that surrounds me with new eyes and ears. I am but one man(but with many clones working behind the scenes), so the chances of me missing out on something great the year before only to discover it barely two weeks into the new year are always pretty high.

This new year transition is no different, folks.

I was asked by musician Timothy Fife if I’d heard Xander Harris’ Termination Dust. I’d said not yet and his reply was that it was amazing and that I should definitely check it out. 2017 rolled along and I kept forgetting to heed Mr. Fife’s advice, so about a week or so before we wished 2017 a fond adieu(and a hearty f**k you) I went to Xander’s Bandcamp page and bought Termination Dust. It arrived yesterday and I’ve been listening to it ever since.

Timothy Fife was right. It’s amazing.

I should’ve listened to Mr. Fife sooner, but if I had I wouldn’t have had this great musical surprise at the beginning of 2018. Harris works within a world of mysterious rhythms, slinky grooves, and sunken, eerie melodies. He makes songs that sometime move like techno, but not in a repetitive, undulating dance floor way. They move with purpose. They beckon you into their musical sanctuary. “Jaws Of Saturn” opens like this cross between the Orb and Popol Vuh as they’re scoring some seedy, grainy early 80s horror film. You can almost imagine an opening credit crawl over some faceless person in black as they walk down Times Square back when doing so would’ve required a S.W.A.T. team and a shot of penicillin for protection. Then we move right into “Carrion Gods In Their Heaven” which takes us from gritty city streets into some ethereal world of posh landscapes and dream-like atmosphere. This is simply a gorgeous track that takes 80s electronic sensibilities and meshes them perfectly with more headier intentions. “Oblivion Mode” is total Komische, Berlin School wonderment. Deep space meets deep thoughts by Xander Harris. This is the kind of thick, heavy synth stuff that takes you into that realm where all seems possible and nothing impossible. If Edgar Froese had ever met up with Boards Of Canada they might’ve sounded like this.

Xander Harris may bring up familiar musical vibes, but he’s building a musical world all his own. Take “Frontier Death Song” for instance; it’s all slinky menace and electronic, existential pondering. If Denis Villeneuve is looking for someone to score his Dune adaptation, something like this would fit in perfectly. All mysterious vastness and science fiction dread. It’s absolutely gorgeous and wholly unique. “We Smoke The Northern Lights” celebrates the new world with dance floor exhilaration and sweaty new age enlightenment. “Worms Crawl In” has an 80s Tangerine Dream vibe, Froese-ian warmth envelopes you as you succumb to this track’s hypnotic charms. “Swift To Chase” closes out the album on a deep space feel. Whether he’s using analog equipment or not, this track has the bubbly warmth of classic 70s Krautrock. Xander Harris tips his hat to the titans of mind expansion like Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, and Klaus Schulze while modernizing their musical DNA with his own deft touch. It’s a brilliant way to close the record.

Termination Dust is fueled with heavy Komische vibes and heady dance floor aspirations. Xander Harris is a brilliant composer and musician, building worlds within his songs that make listening to the album feel like a tour of some alternate timeline or reality. A timeline where we welcome enlightenment and celebrate the human condition, despite the pain that sometimes comes with that condition. It’s a soundtrack to exploration, both internal and external.

2018 just got a hell of a lot more interesting.

 

Wojciech Golczewski : End Of Transmission

Just when you think you’ve got the year in music all wrapped up with a nice, decorative bow an album pops out from the great ether and grabs you by the lapels andtransmission says “You’re not done yet, pal!” That album for me is Wojciech Golczewski’s End Of Transmission. Golczewski is a film composer that also likes to put out music under his own name that’s heavily influenced by older synth music. Earlier this year he released his debut album Reality Check and it was an incredible science fiction-inspired collection of songs that could’ve been the score to some long lost space epic. It had all the bells and whistles. But now Golczewski has gone back into recording mode with nothing more than a miniMoog and a recorder. The results feel primitive yet warm. It’s a visceral listen that harkens back to both early 70s synth pioneers and the primitive scores to those cult sci-fi flicks of yesteryear.

End Of Transmission is a relatively quick listen, with just 7 tracks that all but one are around the 2 to 3 minute mark. With analog synths there’s not much subtlety in the sound. It’s big and brash at times, but they’re also so much more emotive and present than they’re digital counterparts. There’s an organic quality to the instrument and the 7 musical movements collected here feel as if they’re telling a story. Space exploration, time/space journeys, and life forms from other dimensions could all be soundtracked to these songs. The songs, simply title “Transmission 01” through “Transmission 07”, flow nicely into each other. If you’re familiar with Wendy Carlos, Morton Subotnick, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, and even John Carpenter’s earlier film work then you’ll feel right at home in this musical world. While Golczewski definitely brings up visions of other worlds, space travel, and existential ponderings with his synthesizer compositions, these musical pieces also bring to mind early video game music. “Transmission 06” sounds like early Konami; in particular the classic Castlevania for the NES. I sat listening to this record with my son and I just wanted to break out the old console and play. “Transmission 07” also brings to mind some video game vibes. There’s a hint of Disasterpeace’s Fez S/T in there, which warms this middle-aged heart.

Wojciech Golczewski has a knack for creating real emotions and visceral musical experiences through his compositions. Reality Check was his big screen sound, while End Of Transmission is his late night rental cult score. These are mini revelations that get the synapses firing and take you on a journey that leaving the house isn’t required for.

Hey, all you vinyl heads. There’s like 26 copies of this left out of 400 pressed on vinyl. Once they’re gone they’re gone. You could probably snag a copy off Discogs for $70 or $80, but why do that when you can still get a copy for $15? Grab one while you still can. It sounds AMAZING on vinyl. 45RPM, heavy duty vinyl, pretty black sleeve to stare at while you zone out? Do it!

8. 5 out of 10

 

The Puppet’s Dream

A few months back I sat on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, ate some tacos, and watched this little indie horror film called We Are Still Here. A good friend told me I should watch it, so I figured why not? It was Sunday, gloomy, and there were tacos to be eaten. Turns out the film was pretty damn good. A creepy ghost story that was surprisingly moving. A story about parents in the throes of grief and depression over the death of their adult son who move far away from their home to a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere to an old farmhouse they found incredibly cheap. Of course there was a reason it was cheap. I’ll spare you the details as you should really seek this one out and watch for yourself. What struck me about it was that it had nothing to do with teens or 20-somethings partying and doing things their parents wouldn’t be proud of getting slaughtered in the usual grotesque manner. It was written with some maturity in mind. There was build-up and nuance. It was subtle horror that ends up in a massive hallucinatory moment of violence and gore. The end sends a chill down your spine.

I’m telling you, watch the movie.

The score was done by a composer named Wojciech Golczewski. It was subtle and nuanced like the film. Not overbearing, it worked to build those moments of surprise, melancholy and dread. Golczewski has been doing movie scores for sometime now, and a couple months ago he released his debut solo album called Reality Check. Of course when Mondo announced they were releasing it I had to drop the money for it and grab it. It was a wise decision as it’s a stunning piece of sci fi-inspired music.

reality-checkThere’s not much I can say about the album that the album can’t say for itself, really. There’s all the great synthesizer work you come to expect from a futuristic sounding album that sort of plays out like mini themes for film scenes. Tracks like “The Puppets Dream”, “Sid Vortex”, and “Solitude” are dense pieces of synth-inspired electronic music that pull you in to their world. The album cover, complete with disintegrating astronaut floating in space, elicits the casually doomed vibe you get as you make your way through Reality Check. But never do you get the feeling that Golczewski is heavy-handed in his approach to composing. It’s not weird whizzing and buzzing for the sake of making futuristic noises or doomed drone. You can tell he’s worked in film for awhile as each piece has a purpose. “Find Me” is reminiscent of Le Matos’ work on the Turbo Kid S/T; there’s a vastness in the track that also has an undertone of, strangely enough, hope. To me it sounds like a modern take of Le Parc-era Tangerine Dream. A populist take on the heady sci-fi sounds of the 70s. “Being Human” carries the weight of the title. It feels like the robot attempting to understand the meaning of mortality…or something like that. There’s elements of so many great electronic composers here, yet Wojciech Golczewski puts them all through his own unique creativity and point of view that it becomes something wholly original. “Reality Check” is barely two minutes, but within it he creates this almost hallucinogenic feeling, as if you’re listening as a black hole is devouring you.

Here’s the description of Reality Check, courtesy of Golczewski’s Bandcamp page:

Reality Check is a concept album compiled of material composed and inspired by Wojciechs various work for the motion pictures. It can be described as a horror sci fi soundtrack with influences from his previous demoscene and chiptune heritage together with more recent synthwave and electronica.

But don’t just listen to my blubbering, you should head over and check the album out for yourself. It’s another stunning piece of synthesizer/electronic work from someone you’ll be hearing more of. At least from me for sure(working on an interview with Mr. Golczewski himself. Look for it in the next few weeks.) While you’re over at his Bandcamp page, you should check out “Tonight She Comes”. It’s a 7″ he did for another indie horror film. Two great synth pieces. Missed out on that 7″. It sold out pretty fast. But it’s alive and well in digital form. Check it!

So yet another incredible instrumental album I’ve picked up this year. If this sort of thing tickles your fancy pick it up. And if you haven’t yet seen it, watch We Are Still Here. Well worth your time, friends.

reality-check