Maybe synthesizer composer Albert Kuningas was abducted by aliens. Maybe he made it all the way to the top of J. Allen Hynek’s “Close Encounters” scale – the Fourth or Fifth kind of Encounter. (It’s all caps.) The Fourth kind of Encounter includes “cases when witnesses [experience] a transformation of their sense of reality,” and the Fifth kind … well, the Fifth kind is the most special kind of all. This “involves direct communication between aliens and humans.” You don’t find many instances of the Fifth kind of Encounter in the annals of ufology. But perhaps that’s what Kuningas is trying to do with his music – either express through sonic manipulation his experiences of extraterrestrial communication, or actually communicate with extraterrestrials through his music.
Maybe, in the end, Kuningas is just a big dumb fan of The X-Files for all I know.
Regardless of his personal history with UFO encounters, Kuningas is pretty good at nailing down the feel, at least, of science fiction’s take on the unknown from space. His synthesizer pieces recall, of course, Mark Snow’s work on The X-Files’ soundtrack as well as suspense maestro John Carpenter. Obviously you name-drop Tangerine Dream at a time like this as well – their fantasy-steeped film score work, especially for films such as Legend or Sorcerer, belie the darkness of imagination. And, considering the subject matter, “(inter)stellar” is a perfectly apt adjective for Kuningas’ work as well.
Indeed, Musiikkia UFO-dokumenttiohjelmille 2 is essentially imaginary soundtrack work, as the title literally translates from the Finnish to “Music for UFO documentaries.” And of course, this is his second installation, as evidenced by that “2” appended to the title – an initial recording appeared out of nowhere in November 2010. He needs something to score – the minor-key passages and bent arrangements hint at a master ready to build suspense at a moment’s notice, and his creeping compositions should not be played in a dark room at midnight. I’m spooked by them at noon!
OK, maybe that’s a little much, but you get the picture – Kuningas treads paths of eerie tension, and alternates between danger and wonder with ease. Take “Abduktio” (“Abduction,” in English), for instance – its central theme is very Halloween in its execution, but around the edges you can sense the fog and mysterious lights of the deep forest at midnight. “Astraalivirtaus” (seemingly a variation on “astraali virta,” which translates to “astral power”) is more curious, reveling in moments such as those when Fox Mulder is this close to discovering something and he’s realizing that whatever extraterrestrial thing he’s stumbled upon is a lot less dangerous than the humans who want to control it. It’s a one-on-one Fifth Encounter kind of thing, where knowledge is enhanced and education encouraged.
I can only suggest that you ready yourself to be reminded how exciting it is to not know anything about the universe, and how any tiny morsel of information about it can be a true event. Albert Kuningas taps into that wonder, that endless questioning and mystery that was the best part of X-Files’ series run. It’s easy to keep coming back to that show – Kuningas is a great counterpart to it, and would have worked well alongside Snow in the composer’s chair. Musiikkia UFO-dokumenttiohjelmille 2 is thus a bright point of light in the darkness of our ignorance and misunderstanding of our universe. Be prepared for whatever comes next.
RIYL: John Carpenter, Mark Snow, Stellar OM Source, Tangerine Dream