It’s sometimes easy to look back at your childhood with rose tinted glasses, blocking the downs by accentuating the ups. In a way, it’s the little smells or the odd sounds that sometimes flash back into your memory banks what makes you sometimes look back.
Queue WrdsBtwnWrds‘ new ambient album, CS-L 9. If you grew up watching BBC shows from the 60s to 80s, you will get an immediate flashback to the musique concrete sounds that the BBC Radiophonic generated for every single show. Heavy synthetised sequences and arpeggios created wonderful, bizarre atmospheres and CS-L 9 manages to do so, without going overly mawkish (Keff McCulloch from 80s Doctor Who soundtrack, I’m looking at you!*).
A concept album (of sorts) about the crash of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter (hey, Robert Smith did this too!), CS-L 9 is made up of 9 very lovely songs. ‘The far reaches (the potential for extinction)’ opens, fading in with a bubbly arpeggio that slow gathers its electric friends to join the procession. It moves forward, whether you like it or not.
Other pieces aren’t moving, they just stay around, like the ambient sounds of the control room of a control room in the outer rims (‘Transmission (the astronomical body)’) or float aimlessly, like a goatsbeard’s seeds after been blown away in a swift gust of wind (‘In orbit (21 discernable fragments)’, the beautiful ‘String of pearls (visibility of the inevitable impact’).
Old school synths are always a joy and ‘100 years (Separating infinitely within the sea)’ is simply a magical tune. If you only want to take one song from this, make this one yours. Forget outer space for a moment and think about the first time you created something you actually enjoy. That’s the sound of this song. True, ‘Collision (impact on the southern hemisphere)’ might be the sound of that same something toppling under the order of the universe, but that’s the way entropy works (or so explained Tom Baker).
Whatever clicked in the minds of the people of the BBC Radiophonic to take wave generators and reverbs to create the non-existent sounds of space, it’s what’s clicking and turning in the head of WrdsBtwnWrds and its musical fans that cool down the air around you. Beeps and bloops might be fading away once this album ends, but the memory of the galactic dream remain.
Words: Samuel J. Valdés López
*Mind you, McCulloch‘s score for Remembrance of the Daleks is very good and feels like the distant relative of this album.