Radio Free Albemuth was Philip K. Dick’s last book. It makes a fitting subject for the Sine Fiction series of scores for classic science fiction novels, if for no other reason than its protagonist works in the music industry. Technically, Radio Free Albemuth isn’t a classic, as it’s one of Dick’s least known full-length books. It hasn’t the mainstream popularity of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was reworked as the film Blade Runner, or the cult cachet of Valis, to which Albemuth is closely related.
In any case, this 13th entry in the Sine Fiction series was recorded by Galactic Zeit, aka Trace Reddell, a professor of Digital Media Studies at the University of Denver. The album starts with three distinct tracks, a chunk of new-wave-sounding instrumental rhythms (“Aramcheck”), a similarly upbeat bit that may very well have at its core a sample of the Knight Rider theme song (“Valisystem-A”), and a more abstract piece (“FAP”) with industrial overtones. The album’s centerpiece — heck, its foundation — is a nearly 20-minute, through-composed work, “Albemuth,” that is far less loop-driven than the other tracks, darker and ambiguous, with bits of scrambled voices that hint at Dick’s entrenched paranoia. “Orange County” brings down the back beat, for a touch of minimal techno, just a spare drum and light noise, and the closing (and title) entry has, thanks to its beat-lessness, an air of regret and (another Dick motif) psychedelic reflection — less a coda than an ellipsis. (More info on Reddell/Zeit here, and get the full album here for free.)