issue 21 :: March 2012

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Review: Science Fiction Music
of Ginor Robair and Kirchenkampf

For a brief time, the Opus 45 web blog promised to explore the connections between science fiction and music, and I think noise/experimental music as a focus. Sadly, and strangely, its only post was an interview with me concerning a project I did with quotations from Clifford D. Simak. Had the blog continued, I would have suggested, or even volunteered, to review these records by Gino Robair and Kirchenkampf.

Gino Robair — Other Destinations CD (Rastascan)

Probably not intended to be science-fiction music as such by Gino Robair, but comments on the record’s page on the Rastascan web site by Francisco Lopez record his interpretation of the percussion and electronics music heard here. Detailing a story from thousands of years ago, an alien space craft lands in Northern China and thus ensue some successes and failures in Alien-Chinese relations. Robair’s masterful, dense percussion sounds do seem to evoke a primitive culture and the "various electronic and computer adversaries" perfectly represent the ultra-technological aliens. Although released in 1990, (but recently purchased through Lopez’s narrative), the music remains fresh and invigorating.

Kirchenkampf — Dark Planet CD (Cohort Records)

Much more thematic and universal than the invented psuedo-historical approach above, Dark Planet tells a musical fable of unspecified, intelligent life colonizing another planet. Our planet in the past? Or our new planet in some future? Or creatures on the other side of the universe? We are given no details, but piece titles such as "In Transit," "Landfall," "New Moon Rise" paint the picture in the broadest strokes. What we do know is that the music is heavily indebted to the space music of Vangelis, Tomita and Jean-Michael Jarre circa 1975-1980. The music is never as polished or boring as those forerunners; static, noise and digital remnants of echos and reverbs abound. Yet, the music is reminiscent of the grandiose fashion of a good ol’ 1970’s science fiction film like Logan’s Run, Zardoz or Saturn 3. Layers of synthesizes pulse and swirls through drones, rumbles, whines. I wonder at exactly what a "Terrorform" entails.

Optional reading: Here is my interpreation of the piece titles, after a few listens of the album: Powered by starlight, a gigantic cloud of tiny aliens are IN TRANSIT, looking for a new planet, HOMESICK. They notice a DARK PLANET, i.e a planet absorbing all of its star’s radiation, a lot of energy. The cloud aliens ECLIPSE the dark planet from its sun to choke off the dark planet’s power supply. Making LANDFALL, they are attacked by the planet itself--TERRORFORM! Defeated, they are bound up in a dense ball and placed into a FIREMOUNTAIN (i.e., volcano) and launched into orbit, a NEWMOONRISE. Deviously, the dark planet has placed them into a geosynchronous orbit over the side of the planet away from their sun, so that our cloud aliens are forever powerless, WAITING FOR THE SUN.

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