- Juan Atkins once described Richard Davis, his partner in Cybotron, as "a real loner." In his own words, Davis experienced "the worst shit in Vietnam," and after finding some success with Cybotron, was left destitute in a VA hospital. He witnessed the 1967 Detroit riot at age 16 and went AWOL while training for the Marines, but when he heard of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, he turned himself in and was promptly shipped to battle aged 18. When he returned to the States, he used his discharge pay to buy an ARP Axxe and dedicated himself to electronic music.
Methane Sea was recorded two days after the Jonestown Massacre, and it's hard to discount the fact considering Davis's narrator speaks of planting his seed in deep space, evolving his progeny into superhuman beings and ruling the universe. If Conrad Schnitzler was more into Funkadelic than Fluxus, he might've made something like Methane Sea, but unlike the German, Davis aims for an explicit narrative. His sounds have a strong programmatic function: when Davis describes the wind brushing his cheek as a "200 degree kiss," sizzling filter-pings emphasise the imagery. And when the piece reaches its peak with a cry of "proton bombs!," we're crushed under a deluge of nuclear-force synth detonations.
While Methane Sea might sound dated to some, there's a malignant core to it that makes most modern attempts at sinister, political music sound meek in comparison. Though it's tempting to ascribe this to Davis' traumatic experiences, that'd take away agency from an artist who deserves more than being a footnote in Atkins' biography.
A Methane Sea - Prelude
B Methane Sea - Aftermath