S.E.T.I. – The Sphere Of Density

[Reviewed by stark]

Not counting his own digital endeavours, Andrew Lagowski shares his creative time with three labels these days. Loki Foundation, or rather its Power & Steel sublabel, …txt and Zoharum Records. Yet there was no S.E.T.I. – Zoharum relationship up to this date, as the latest opus under this moniker the British producer has released on the Polish label.

Two years ago the project has presented an epic 8-CD box “Sleep Environments For Interplanetary Travel ” for Power & Steel and I feel slightly embarassed as I consider myself a huge S.E.T.I. fan, yet I still haven’t lain my hands on this impressive box. I need to do it, especially that one of another offering by the project, “The Sphere Of Density” is once again an exquisite piece of dark ambient.

This is a 2-CD release. First record is a regular brand new album, while the second one is a live recording of his live performance at Wrocław Industrial Festival in 2019. And while formally it is “dark” ambient, there’s no doubt about it, this is one of those examples when I feel a little bit uncomfortable pigeonholing the project with this description. The concept is mysterious, but not dark, the images the music stimulates aren’t dark either. Applying the attributes that are typical of, generally speaking, the cosmic offshoot of electronic droning, Lagowski doesn’t want to kick a black hole with the door, but he rather focuses on the vastness of stellar space as seen by the little ones from the ground. On a mystery of the cosmos beyond human comprehension. And there’s no darkness nor fear, but rather curiosity, awareness of scientific and technical limitations, but also a longing to discover new galaxies, perhaps to get to know a foreign civilization. It’s this form of ambient I associate with scientists working in observatories like Arecibo, staring fascinated at their telescopes for months, making hundreds of calculations incomprehensible to the folks like you or me, believing that this – I suppose – quite boring everyday routine will someday effect with a breathtaking effect. Maybe a close encounter of the third kind.

You can detect a certain interrelation between this album and, for example, “Kosmodrom” by Bad Sector. “The Sphere Of Density” is certainly more ambient-oriented, but both artists have something in common in terms of building a specific atmosphere and intertwining a micronoises, glitches, shreds of radio communications into their sometimes dreamy, sometimes mysterious textures. S.E.T.I. though seem to be less experimental in the end, occasionally referring to the classic 70s-80s electronica.

The live recording on the second CD is a 40-ish minutes long improvised track, more noisy and experimental, yet still maintaining this specific S.E.T.I. vibe. Nevertheless to me it is more like a curiosity, an interesting though not indispensable addiction to the regular album. A very good album.

S.E.T.I.The Sphere Of Density
Zoharum, ZOHAR 201-2
CD/Digital 2020

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