S.E.T.I - The Sphere Of Density [Zoharum - 2020]The Sphere Of Density is the 15th full-length album from S.E.T.I, who create darker hued-to-moodily extraterrestrial and space-themed ambience/ largely beat-less electronica. The new album is presented as a two-CD set- on disc one we have seventy-four minutes of studio material, and on the other disc a forty-three-minute live performance.
S.E.T.I(Search for Evidence of Terrestrial Intelligence) is one of the main projects of UK based Andrew Lagowski-who will be also known to people for Lagowski, his techno focused IDM/ electronica project. S.E.T.I has been active since 1994, and as well as the fifteen studio albums he's put out around similar numbers in live albums, splits, shorts. As the project's name suggests all of the releases are themed around extraterrestrial, space-bound, and sci-fi themes. This new release, well the first disc, take its influence from the work Russian Sci-fi writer Alexander Petrovitch Kazantsev.
The first CD takes in seventy-four minutes of soundscaping- this is split into five tracks, and these each come in-between seven and twenty-three minutes. S.E.T.I are often labeled as dark ambient, but with this album, I’d say it’s more moody-to-slightly dark in toned fare- so please don’t expect Lustmord like deep ‘n’ dark space ambient fare here…there are a few stripped back & gloomy moments, but largely the feel here is all about slow-moving 'n' moody synth lines, radio wave texturing, and electro bound sci-fi texturing. If I was to sum up this first disc- I’d say a more space focused Tangerine Dream- say a mix of their late 70’s/ early 80’s records with a smidge of Zeit’s more abstract and brooding leanings, with touches of Boards Of Canada more ambient/ beat-less moodiness. Even though the album is split into five tracks- it very much feels like a sonic concept album, as melody themes reappear & tones/ textures are revisited- much like again Tangerine Dream.
The second CD takes in one long jam-like track recorded at Wroclaw Industrial Festival in 2019. The forty-one minute and thirty-two-second track focus in on the more noise bond & abstract side of the projects sound- and again I’m not sure I’d say it's dark ambient- it's more like industrial & noise blended electronica/ sci-fi ambient. The track begins with very jarring electro spinning & grinding tones, these are underfed by alien-like creaks, wiry synth bounces, and general Sci-fi moodiness. As we move on we come to blends of robot chattering, brooding voice cuts, droning & slice electro texturing- all with a broodingly moody undercarriage. Through to blends of tick-tocking atmospheric synth scaping, radio signals, and sci-fi sound texturing, and towards the end we even get some more formal beat bound edge comes into play.
On the whole The Sphere Of Density is a worthy two-disc trip into outer space & beyond. The first disc stays more towards the projects formal star bound ambient/ spaced-out electronica, while the second disc homes in on the projects more abstract and noise bound leanings.Roger Batty