Philippe Petit - Do Humans Dream Of Electronic Ships [Opa Loka Records - 2020]Here's a two-disc CD set that offers up a selection of manic-to-atmospheric elector focused mood scapes based around Sci-fi aesthetics. With the release title 'been a play on words on Philip K Dicks Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep- which was of course what Blade Runner was based on- though the albums far from the alternative soundtrack to said book or film, using wider & more varied Sci-fi themes for its influence on the seven tracks featured here.
Since the early 2000’s Marseille-based Philippe Petit has been a self-proclaimed 'musical-travel-agent', utilizing turntablism, modular synthesis, and a host of other instruments & devices to create his sound worlds. His work flits between composed & improvised, as well as blurring the lines between both. For this new release he’s utilizing an impressive selection of kit to create the spaced-out & intergalactic swirled sounds- we have various varieties of Moog’s, analog delay peddles, ring modulators, Theremin, turntables & prepared vinyl’s, electric music boxes, guitar, cello, grand piano, etc.
The sound through-out both discs is difficult to genre tag - as the material moves from dense & spacey seared soundscaping that at times tips into star ribbed & laser scored noise, though to lose electro texturing, onto more formal & moody beat-less electronica. Even though I’ve played through both discs multiple times- I’m still surprised by where tracks go & end up. At times you do get a slight feeling that Petit is like a kid in a sonic candy store- with moments of free-fall & lack of direction in places, but largely the release makes for a rewarding trip to the stars, odd planets, and strange spacecraft.
The first disc kicks off with the just shy of six & a half minutes of “The Journey”- here we start with a blend of low-end elector buzzing, scraping ‘n’ knocking metallic drones, and spiraling-to-skittering electro pitches-at times we move towards structure/ shape with moody organ tone drift, but largely Petit is sonically painting here in a fairly abstract manner, and this remains the same for much of the releases runtime. With the third track on disc one we get around twelve minutes “Encounters Of The 6th Kind” this moves from manically cascading beeping & phasing electro noise- that brought mind one of the more reserved moments of Merzbow's space-bound work. Onto taut & tight textural glitch stabs & picks, through buzzing grain swoops edged with high pitch chatting alien tones. The first disc ends with another epic track the eleven & a half minutes of “Return To Tomorrow. Is This End” which opens with one of the more reserved & pared-back moments with a darkly mellow blend of vibe hits & wondering piano, which sounds a little bit like Bohren & Der Club of Gore warming up. By around the forth minute things have turned a more abstract & episodic as we move from textural scrap 'n' drag edged by random spacey blips & blops, stopping & starting synth bass lines chops that build into electro string like marches that are ebbed with electro twists, cascades, and hovers.
Moving onto the second disc in the set- and this just features two tracks- the fifty-two minutes "Laika In Space" & the nearing ten & a half minutes of "Why Do Birds". The first track is live improv, and as you’d imagine focuses in on the more episodic & abstract side of the release- so you get a truly spaced-out, at times a little shapeless, but certainly eventful & largely worthy near on hour of sonics from the first track. The second track is a live/ no overdub in one take affair- and here we find jittering, stretching, and manically swirling electro pitches- again a nicely eventful track.
Since been a child I’ve always been fascinated with all things Sci-Fi & trips to other worlds so I’ve always been a sucker for any sound-scaping that’s star bound, with that in mind I enjoyed what we had here well enough- I just wish at times if it had become a tad more structured & set in places.