- Electro bombs from a visionary producer.
- A couple months ago, the BBC ran a five-part documentary series called The Planets, which explored the formation of our solar system. Professor Brian Cox, one of the BBC's preeminent science broadcasters, marvelled at the colossal forces of celestial bodies colliding, with repercussions that would lead to the sparks of life on Earth. Mark Kastner, AKA Galaxian, unfortunately didn't land the job of soundtracking the series, but I get the feeling he could have done an excellent job. The Scottish artist writes electro that is unparalleled in its size and intensity. However, this sometimes creates what might be considered a problem: as visionary as his music frequently is, his tracks, whether due to their sheer speed, use of noise or experimental rhythms, are too much for most DJs to play (unless you're Aphex Twin, of course). Coming Up For Air, his debut for Ilian Tape, is no picnic in this respect, but it does offer some of the more DJ-friendly music Kastner has ever written.
Exhibit A: the fantastic, dramatic "External Observer." Strings soar, the melodies are massive, the beats robust. Things get pretty wild towards the end, but Kastner contains everything within a fairly strict 142-BPM electro framework. "Fuzzy Clouds Of Potential Existence" and "Mechanistic Control Fantasies" are a bit faster, but there's a warmth and approachability to Kastner's synth lines, the kind of warped-but-lovely angle Richard D. James built his name on. "Coming Up For Air" is the hardcore nutter of the group, thanks mainly to the punishing Amen breaks and Reese-style bassline, although the pad occupying the background is pure bliss. With "Terminal Phase," we're out somewhere in Saturn's rings, the track's drones and bass coming off cold and distant. Overall though, Coming Up For Air suggests that the occasional straight banger works rather nicely for Galaxian.
A1 External Observer
A2 Fuzzy Clouds Of Potential Existence
B1 Coming Up For Air
B2 Machanistic Control Fantasies
B3 Terminal Phase