(Moss Archive, 2015)
Do you want to know something weird? I’m just reading Isaac Asimov’s famous Foundation trilogy, a space opera that spans an entire millennium. Wanna know something far less weird? It’s really good. (And it’s really surprising to discover all of the references made to it throughout science fiction and pop culture, from Star Wars to Futurama. I shouldn’t be this far behind on it.) Anyway, the reason I bring that up is because of the, er, “psycho-historical” significance of me reading those books at the same time I’m listening to Adderall Canyonly’s phenomenal new Moss Archive tape, Beneath the Crystal Canyon a Spark Remains. Both recall far-out otherworldly landscapes where life is abundant, hundreds of extrasolar planets coexisting within a single galaxy. Both hint at (or flat-out declare) massive upheavals in existence. Both hint at (or flat-out declare) a necessity for modern-day Frippertronics as a soundtrack. Both kick ass.
Digression: And maybe I’m just stupid, but isn’t “Adderall Canyonly” a broke-ass anagram? There’s two Ys, at the very least. But I’m bad at anagrams. Plus, Wayne Longer, the name of the real and actual person behind the Adderall Canyonly guise, has been at this game for a while, and thus you know him. Or he has visited you in dreams, in which case you may be scared of him. Either way, as I’m prattling, you’re not listening to the music. So let’s pop this one in the ol’ tape deck and get a move on, shall we?
Beneath the Crystal Canyon a Spark Remains tells the space saga of … aw, who am I kidding. There’s no narrative except the one you impose on this bad boy. The one I’m imposing, as you may suspect after reading that first paragraph moments ago, is pretty awesome, and hews to the spirit of Foundation and its descendents. There are clearly space pirates, or space cowboys, or space traders, or space smugglers, and everybody’s Han Solo or Samuel Curtis, and everybody’s always getting into blaster fights, and five-year-old me claps gleefully as it all unfolds. The style is kosmische meets post rock, and synthesizers mostly cut the interplanetary murk. After the brief and dread-filled synth-and-sample intro “Vie Nuebish Nirbasawbi,” which is awesome, comes “We Walk the Streets of Flesh,” and there’s a dusty town and strangers and spurs and multiple suns, and the landscape is all off because it’s mostly purple instead of the normal brown and red desert of the western United States that this is meant to invoke, but in another arm of the galaxy. Someone – OK, I’ll point fingers, Wayne Longer – has been listening to Ennio Morricone and Cluster back to back on repeat. The resulting stylistic mashup has crept into the system. And it works better than it has any right to.
“Beneath the Crystal Canyon” has a total Tangerine Dream vibe, a mystical sense that the “spark” in the album title is some sort of talisman waiting to be unearthed. The track is nine minutes of gorgeous discovery, shimmering and pulsing with danger and excitement. Oooooh! I can’t wait to hear more. “Dramazeta Dei” brings back the shaky spurs and haunting guitar, the sounds of a war-ravaged planet devolved into a smuggling hub. I’m not kidding, I think this track and “We Walk the Streets of Flesh” are two of the best tracks I’ve heard in a long time – I want to make them the soundtracks to pretty much everything I do. (I peer menacingly from beneath cowboy hats a lot.) Then there are the deep panics like “Ruan” (or “Shadow System on High,” depending on what you’re reading), which is fucking terrifying – something’s running me down, and I’m just outta here. That’s about as crazy as it gets – “Dark, Slow Submission” is creepy, and “Fields of Green, Smoke Ahead” is unsettling, but “Ruan” just flat-out sends me into a huddled ball of trembling fear.
Even though you get these specific locations and instants throughout Beneath the Crystal Canyon a Spark Remains, there’s such a vastness still that no matter what happens in the storyline you impress upon the music, it’s small and meaningless compared to the movement of the celestial spheres. One person, one action, one discovery means virtually nothing – maybe that’s what’s so frightening about all this. But anyway, why dwell on that when you’ve got such a remarkable album to revel in? I’m going into cryo-sleep with this in my headphones.
RIYL: Fripp & Eno, Komodo Haunts, Mark McGuire, Bastian Void