Stupid Cosmonaut – ‘Digitalis’ reviewed

❉ Drawing inspiration from the cosmos and science fiction to draw haunting visions of a not too distant dystopian future, this is no ordinary album.

Few field trips sound as magnetic and hypnotic as Stupid Cosmonaut’s opener, but this is no ordinary field trip nor this is no ordinary album. The Bury based  group bring the beauty of Eno’s soundscaped painted scenes with shades of Vangelis styling the scenery. Opener Field Trip gets the albums kinestic approach running with samplers, keys and atmospherics, perfect for a track to waken you up at four in the morning. Rephlex goes one better, a synth catalgue of layered moogs bringing its listener to the outer rims of space. This is not an album for any casual music listener, brevity is not on display here, instead the opening two tracks bring listeners back to the days of Floyd, both skimming past the five minute cut off mark of radio play.

Drawing inspiration from the cosmos and science fiction to draw haunting visions of a not too distant dystopian future (their words, not ours), Digitalis is an even stronger record than their debut Algol, the Tangerine Dream influences from their debut now flowing nicely into a sound distinctly of their own. (Its fitting that so much great sci fi comes from Northern England, Alan Moore has never written outside of Northampton, Ridley Scott only had to look to Brimingham to rain drench his set on Blade Runner).

The sounds they create of a future sound dark and bleak, viperous and weak, the austere sounding Offline has a suspenseful finding beguiding the keyboard led drum sample. If Kafka could be captured in music, then Offline has the despair, chaotic convulsion and erraticism conveyed coolly in a metamorphosis of alienation. It slows, speeds, slows, speeds- and so does the listeners ennui. Conceptual art at its best.

Post-postmodern uber club wonder Post Human is pleasantly Kraftwerkian, the waltz time vintage but contemporaneous, hip but heart filled. The best track on the album, it’s also the most commercial in sound, most optimistic, most heart filled, most mainstream, gargantuan in keyboard-filled heaven, sweet to the soul, blithe to the brain.

The title track Digitalis is strangely enough, the least interesting song here, a droned organ overlaying a scratched sound of desolate screams. Uninteresting and unwanted, it is made up for by album closer Sadness and Euphoria, a transient dream of magnetic guitar cadences and synthesised strings, a seven minute prog cum epic, cerebral in effect, beautiful in delivery. So much emotion is conveyed through the songs main keyboard line, so much intrigue is brought through the songs hidden linings. Keyboards line the speakers like an army, one rithing on one another like a battle of musical soldiers. Instrumental and ornamental, this is a mastery of an esoteric melange, starting from slow balladry to mid-way seismic to Afro-pentometric closings.

And despite the lack of voices on this record, there’s something strangely humane about this work, touches of effects lively and lovely, intimate in conceptual and concert delivery, sanguine in cerebralism, majestic in muiscality, beautiful in bygone blowing. Stupid Cosmonaut have taken over where Vangelis left off.

❉ Stupid Cosmonaut – ‘Digitalis’ will be released on vinyl by label Drone Rock Records on 8th January 2018. Click here to order!

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