(OJC Recordings, 2015)
Rigel Magellan and Guu, the two artists splitting the sides of this cassette release from OJC Recordings, are not from this planet. You heard me right – these two entities are not from Earth at all. In fact, they’re so far removed from Earth, so far removed from our solar system that it’s almost impossible to understand what the physical characteristics of their vicinity are even like. We’ve got our human, terrestrial sense, and we impose that worldview outward, beyond our atmosphere and into deep space. The vast majority of us assume we’ll be able to fit the physics of space and time and of far-off constructs into our imaginations somehow. The vast majority of us are dead wrong.
So to understand the aural transmissions from these two exploratory artists, we must set aside what we know about everything and prepare our senses for inevitable expansion. You know the Voyager mission, where we sent the spacecraft Voyager 1 hurtling out into deep space (which passed beyond the edge of our solar system relatively recently)? It contained a “Golden Record” containing, among other things, music from our planet. If you can, imagine what extraterrestrial life would make of Mozart and Chuck Berry – the music would be just as alien to other entities as this split is to us. We are therefore tasked with deciphering Rigel Magellan and Guu’s “Golden Record,” sent from wherever they are to Earth. It seems to have landed in a garage in Los Angeles.
Rigel Magellan’s side is exactly what you’d expect a recording from a distant galaxy to sound like, at least to the ears of us retrofuturists who imagine that kind of thing. Bleeps and bloops filter in and out of frequencies and oscillations, clearly the sounds of a well-functioning spacecraft or structure on an alien society. Have you seen I Dream of Wires yet? (If not, why not???) I imagine that Rigel Magellan would have fit right into the geeky conversations about modular synthesizers in that documentary. Except of course he (or it) wouldn’t be speaking with his (its) mouth – who knows what kind of weebly appendage or psionic power Rigel uses to communicate with. “42 V” has some guitar and samplage happening though – not to be outdone by the excellent synth tracks, of course! And is that some kind of organ guiding us into stasis on “Lithosphere”? You bet it is. Maybe the plan is that once we’re out, Rigel’s taking over.
Guu seemingly is the entity that received the original “Golden Record”—wrap your head around that for a minute. Obviously Guu’s side of the recording here is its attempt to communicate by repurposing our own music and turning it back toward us, the result being a warped and slightly ominous recreation (think The Caretaker), but hopefully the approximation is a sincere attempt at communication rather than a manifestation by which to pacify us ahead of an inevitable invasion. God I hope not! “Tide” rides a gentle sample until it decomposes into static and delay, and it’s gorgeous, so that’s a good start. “Moss is a bit more ominous, and decays completely in the middle in favor of whatever processing noise Guu is working with. “Line” is super ominous – this is getting bad folks. On it, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” melts and dies and is replaced by other songs, played seemingly through a boombox that’s low on batteries. Guu is toying with us, taking songs we recognize and bending and manipulating them beyond all recognition. I don’t think I like what Guu’s up to here – but I like how it sounds!
I dunno – in the end I’m pretty sure Rigel Magellan and Guu are just too different from us to know how to communicate without sounding menacing in some form or another. That’s actually great news – it allows me to exercise my sci-fi imagination for a bit while listening. Hopefully that will happen for you too – I’ve at least grounded you with a frame of reference. So do yourself a favor and step into the unknown for once – it’ll be a character-building exercise. Or it may inspire the salvation of our planet and species! Here’s hoping.
RIYL: Sungod, Tarotplane, The Caretaker, Black Unicorn