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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Space Music, Interior Shot (MP3s)

Perhaps the biggest shift in so-called “space music” since the 1970s is how it used to sound like outer space, and now more often than not it sounds like a field recording from inside a spacecraft. This probably doesn’t have much to do with the more widely available knowledge that space is a vacuum, and more to do with the influence of minimal techno’s emphasis on dank corridors and creaky machines. It took a long time, but our collective image of that vast frontier has moved from Carl Sagan’s vision to Andrei Tarkovsky’s, from the naturalist hypothesis of Cosmos to the psychological conundrum of Solaris.

Nor, to be clear, is it necessary that a space-music album wrap itself in the vestiges or vestments of science fiction — with the rise of abstract electronica, space music is a broad term, embracing all kinds of sonic experimentation. Take the recent two-song EP by Edu Comelles, who records as Mensa. Titled Braid Heritage, it consists of lengthy mixes of long synth tones and tiny little audio chatter, like the workings of an abandoned or unmanned space ship deep into a mission. “Lengthy” may be the key word here. The tracks were originally part of the Moorland album on the Test Tube netlabel, and they appear here in extended form, one, “Hermitage of Braid (Slow Version)” (MP3), almost 9 minutes long, the other, “Blackford Hill (Extended)” (MP3), nearly 11. The attenuated format suits the music’s slow sense of development and attention to the nuanced opportunities inherent in repetition.

[audio: http://www.archive.org/download/rb084/01-Blackford_Hill_extended.mp3|titles=”Blackford Hill (Extended)”|artists=Mensa] [audio:http://www.archive.org/download/rb084/02-Hermitage_Of_Braid_slow_version.mp3|titles=”Hermitage of Braid (Slow Version)”|artists=Mensa]

For comparison’s sake, here are the original versions:

[audio: http://www.monocromatica.com/netlabel/releases/tube212/tube212-02-mensa_-_blackford_hill_quarry.mp3|titles=”Blackford Hill Quarry”|artists=Mensa] [audio:http://www.monocromatica.com/netlabel/releases/tube212/tube212-04-mensa_-_hermitage_of_braid_redux.mp3|titles=”Hermitage of Braid (Redux)”|artists=Mensa]

More on the release at restingbell.net. Check out the original versions at monocromatica.com/netlabel.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 2 ]

2 Trackbacks

  • By Mensa – Moorland « Disruptive Platypus on August 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    […] those albums I’ve been meaning to write about. However the two good reviews of these works at Disquiet and Netlabels & News probably slowed me down a bit, but what the hell. The combination of […]

  • By Mensa – Moorland | Acts of Silence on May 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    […] those albums I’ve been meaning to write about. However the two good reviews of these works at Disquiet and Netlabels & News probably slowed me down a bit, but what the hell. The combination of […]

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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