Astronautic Ambitions

Real Colors Of The Physical World

In times of uncertainty I’ll reach for the bottle of red with the nicest label. When it comes to music, one can usually rely on a label like Editions Mego to deliver tasteful material with a long shelf life. So when arrives a slab of thick black vinyl in a cardboard covering of riotous collaged colour (resembling, rather, one of Savage Pencil’s Wire ‘Primer’ illustrations) and bearing a GRM-esque legend like ‘Raglani’, then only the most doubting of Thomases will waver. And so it is that fans of all things concrète, Kosmische, vintage synth, and sci-fi soundtrack should consider snapping-up this spaced-out slice of tomorrow, yesterday, being as dynamic and dazzling as the sleeve suggests; and as full-bodied and smooth-tailed as a good Amarone.

Hitherto unknown to me, Mr. Raglani here sculpts sound as nostalgic and retro-futuristic as anything you’ll find on the Creel Pone label, and thanks to mastering mastermind Rashad Becker, it sounds richer to boot. Apparently, this is (Joe) Raglani’s first LP proper since 2006, though it’s rather difficult to tell, as he seems to have amassed a fair few limited edition cassettes and CDRs in the meantime, ostensibly of a darker ambient bent to the present proposition. This missive occasions a mission statement detailing a search for ‘the cosmic in the concrete’ and ‘construct(ion of) a plastic image of the imperceptible dynamics beneath the surface of the world ‘. What this means in concrete terms is a matter best left for an interview, suffice to say that he could scarcely be faulted for want of ambition.

The record comprises two extended, electronic compositions, each consisting of four (or so) movements that bleed phantasmagorically into one another. As cosmologies shift from dense to ethereal; electric to entropic, familiar elements of musique concrète and ‘kosmische’ emerge and merge while Raglani has a good old tinker with all manner of physical and phenomenological variables. Oft-animated, ever bleeping, yet sometimes lurching like wind-up robots winding down, the pieces present a sophisticated interweaving of natural and synthesized sounds, Carlos-esque vocodered vocals and shimmering segues that suggest at times the courting dance of electric shadows. Detectable also are shades of the Rephlex label’s more playful releases, and the corner of Trunk Records that happily houses now-revered names like Basil Kirchin and Tristram Cary. The album also sports a bonus 7” featuring arpeggiated, somewhat poppier numbers, which will surely seduce the club-goers of summer 3000.

I remember finally ‘getting’ the initially alienating mutant pixie music of Caroliner Rainbow: through a cassette Walkman, blanketed on a sofa with heavy flu, when suddenly the mountainous riffage of ‘Rainbows Made of Meat’ spoke to me like the voice of God. So vivid is this recollection that I can give ready credence to the myth that attending an Otomo Yoshihide show with a heavy fever was the catalyst for Raglani’s own musical productivity. While the rest of us were at home sick, feeling sorry for ourselves! So on the strength of releases like this, I’m considering giving up washing my hands altogether.

Raglani’s Soundcloud page