Capricorn One

Alva Noto’s third volume in the Xerrox series (RASTER-NOTON R-N 159) arrived here March 2012; noted Volume 2 in 2009, and picked up on the fact that it’s more about ambient electronic atmospheres than Alva’s usual grid-marking methods, but overlooked the fact that it included a number of samples from the music of Stephen O’Malley, Michael Nyman, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, and also a “malfunctioning inflight program” from Continental Airlines.

More to the point, he’s carefully describing a journey, or a simple trajectory if you will, with this series of works…taking us from “Old World” “To the New World” and now “Towards Space”. It seems fitting, based on what little I know of Carsten Nicolai, that he should have such devout faith in the success of science and technology, and specifically with the notions of progress that scientific developments will bring. His vision of “Towards Space” is an inspiring one, full of white space, clean lines, unfailing life-support systems, and a general serenity on board the uncluttered space-ship or space-station that is intended to make you happy to leave behind the “old world” of ugliness and unhealthiness. It feels like a lonely, solitary life as well, only the stars and the cosmos for company. Two related strands have fed into this work: first, science-fiction films, including Solaris and a mini-series based on the Jules Verne story The Mysterious Island, and second, Carsten Nicolai’s personal memories of watching these films.

The totality of Xerrox Vol. 3 is thus to present itself as an imaginary science-fiction movie soundtrack, based on personal (childhood) experiences of the creator. As such, it’s more than some gee-whizz sci-fi fantasy and there’s a good deal of emotional truth embedded in these tones, and music which may on first listen appear rather clinical and samey ambient drone reveals itself to be quite beautiful and contemplative in nature. The release is available as a download, a CD, and a double vinyl LP; and if they don’t satisfy you, look for the limited-edition 100 copy vinyl version where the records have been signed and stamped by the creator himself, and the whole thing arrives in a nice slipcase.

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