Neel - Phobos [Editions Mego - 2014]Much like 1950's America*, current synthesizer music is focused on the vastness of space and the the long, cold journey between distant destinations. The newest slice of space-faring, cold synthery comes to us from Giuseppe Tillieci, Roman audio engineer using the moniker Neel. Tillieci is not only known for his work behind the boards but also for his role in techno duo Voices From The Lake. Taking a break from techno, Neel's Phobos focuses on cold soundscapes that are as bleak as the Martian moon that shares its name.
Although conveniently cut up into seven tracks, Phobos consists of one album long song. Judging by the song titles, the underlying story looks to play a lot like Brian DePalma's Mission to Mars. Crackling, light static begins the journey like the wind that welcomes the astronauts as they land on Phobos. Thick, low drones fill the aural void while reinforcing the emptiness of space. The lack of atmosphere adds to the alien landscape and it captured by the slow, droning synth layers. Part subterranean and interestingly aquatic, the atmosphere builds and shifts, and even captures the feeling of wearing a space helmet. The last quarter of Phobos shifts the tone a bit to one of discovery and contemplation. This brightness is a nice contrast to the thirty or so minutes that precede it.
Phobos is a very solid debut album from Neel. Sonically, it's very well done, and it's very clear that Giuseppe Tillieci knows his way around recording gear. There isn't a ton of variety, though, so other than the last ten minutes, almost every section is interchangeable with any other. Despite this, it's an enjoyable record and I look forward to hearing what Neel comes up with in the future.
(*concerned with space and communism)Paul Casey