Normally it’s already a challenge to give all the music sent to me the attention it deserves. The challenge even gets bigger when receiving extreme long-form ambient sets like this one: 40 tracks with an average length of 12 minutes (which can range from 4 to 22 minutes): a total set length of eight hours and three minutes!
Now here’s what we call long-form ambient!
S.E.T.I. is one of the ambient music projects from Andrew Lagowski, who has been creating electronic music since 1982. The abbreviation stands for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, which refers to an actual scientific institute founded in 1984. The context of this album is thus indicated by its creator’s alias as well as from its title (which, by the way, can be abbreviated to S.E.I.T.)
Due to its length the project can be compared to Robert Rich’s Sleep Music projects like Somnium and Perpetual. (And, to a lesser extent perhaps, to Max Richter‘s famous Sleep). Each of these works last around eight hours, which is somewhat of a good night’s sleep.
But there’s the conceptual difference of course: Robert Rich focuses on the science of sleep cycles, guiding the listener through various sleep phases – but S.E.I.T. is meant to accompany us through long periods of hibernation while travelling through space:
“You are on a journey to other worlds, using wormhole navigation and cosmic guidance. You’ll go through parallel universes. A lot of the time, you will need to sleep in order to maintain sanity and these sounds can accompany you if you’ll allow them in. They’ll comfort you, remind you…
There will be echoes of your past lives, encounters and tangential moments. Darkness, beauty and noise will be your companions…”
Even so, it still somewhat follows a night’s sleep cycle: starting lively, slowing down gently, slowly getting quieter and deeper, until it comes back up again near the end (even to wake you up from your hibernation with a repeating alarm beep in the last track Nebulo 8).
Even if you’re not especially into Sci-Fi fantasies of intergalactic travel, this music is still worth checking out. The sounds are very immersive, relaxing and evolving through various levels of activity. I had no problem playing this set continuous all throughout the day without getting bored for a single moment.
However, I assume it will be quite hard to fall asleep with this set in the background, because the music at times beg for attention and probably wake you up again should you have fallen asleep. Or in other words: it simply isn’t ‘boring’ enough to fall asleep to…
It may be nice company if you suffer from insomnia, though.
To digest this set in one continuous go, you need the digital version. There’s a physical edition 8(!)-CD set too, but then of course you will need to change the CD every hour. Not very easy to do when you are in deep hibernation – but it may be the preferred option if you want to digest this set in smaller sessions.
This massive set was released on December 21, 2018. Which probably was too late for mentions in any end-of-year list. Which is a bit of a shame because this is a very impressive set. So, at the end of this year, let’s just pretend this is a 2019 release.
FRAME – THE JOURNEY
S.E.T.I. may be your soundtrack for intergalactic travel, but if you want to stay closer to home and have no plans to cross the borders of our own galaxy, Frame may be the soundtrack of choice.
With its titles all referring to the planets in our solar system (and the last track on the album named The Arrival), you know that this is gonna be a journey into the outer edges of our galaxy. Which is somewhat of a departure from the usual arctic focus of the Glacial Movements label.
But, according to the artists, ‘silence in glacial environments and in space are very similar, both in a figurative sense and in terms of perception.’
Frame started in 1992 with the idea ‘to re-create the atmosphere of a movie theater in a musical show.’ So it’s not surprising that Eugenio Vatta and Andrea Benedetti create a deeply cinematic sound. A sound especially created for Glacial Movements, with a ‘focus on silence’.
That ‘silence’ should not be taken too literally – it’s not the John Cage 4’33” kind of silence. It’s the kind of silence we know from the music accompanying floating-in-space scenes in Sci-Fi movies.
An extremely immersive trip