Space Music: Roly Porter, Tleilaxu and Dune Music


Welcome to Dune. Pass the Semuta. iStock Images

I'm well into my re-read of Frank Herbert's "Dune" for its 50th anniversary, so I thought I'd highlight some Space Music that helps me immerse myself in the universe. Forget the official film scores, because our trajectory to the planet Arrakis is blissfully electronic.

First of all, I've already blogged about Bernard Szajner's "Visions of Dune," a recently re-released album of Dune-inspired electronic music from 1979. Initially brought to my attention by DJ Food's excellent blog, it's an unparalleled work and works nicely with any literary jaunt to the desert planet. But I'm also pleased to discover a couple of more recent releases.

"Aftertime" by Roly Porter

First up, we have the 2011 album "Aftertime" by Roly Porter, formerly of the UK electronic duo Vex'd.

Porter's previous work with Jamie Teasdale tended to explore the grimier, ambient corners of UK dubstep, and his solo work takes those existing tendencies into what Subtext records calls an "industrial classical aesthetic."

"Aftertime" consists of 11 tracks, each named for a different planet in the Dune universe. Each one is a stirring, ambient soundscape resonating with the atmosphere of that particular world. "Tleilax," for instance, offers cold serenity troubled by undercurrents of technological distortion -- a perfect interpretation of a world dominated by flesh manipulation that threatens to disfigure the soul.

Likewise, "Ix" gives us an aura of sterile technology, tinged with a ethereal, zen-like quality. "Caladan" provides a peaceful, nostalgic taste of House Atreides' peaceful homeworld, while "Giedi Prime" invokes House Harkonnen's brutal military industrial complex. The final track, "Arrakis," references the desert planet itself with a sense of sweeping wonder and ascension. Here's a preview of the entire album:

You can stream "Aftertime" over at Spotify, or purchase a copy at your favorite music supplier (here's Amazon). And be sure to explore Porter's website for more music, including his equally-spacy "Life Cycle of a Massive Star."

"Gene Therapy" by Tleilaxu

With this next selection, we return to flesh-crafting plots of the Bene Tleilax -- or at least to an artist who used them as inspiration for his moniker. His name is Chris Frank (AKA DJ Crasta), and he's released three albums of electronic ambiance under the name "Tleilaxu."

His 1999 album "Gene Therapy" delivers a chill, trip-hop vibe full of dreamy tonality, mechanical beats and a dash of IDM glitch. I've had it in regular rotation all week as it provides a wonderful soundscape for research and writing.

https://youtu.be/UyHJm0pZu1Y?list=PLwCVfMTM3W4kzuCrsKCXDkW9amKl-ywhw

While "Gene Therapy" is available via Spotify and Amazon, his other albums seem harder to come by. But Frank offers some tracks on his Soundcloud page and I imagine his Facebook page is a good place to haunt for news of additional releases. I know I will.

Space Music is a continuous exploration of our expanding cosmos of sound, with a firm emphasis on electronic music. Explore years of posts right here, and sample a little of everything at the Space Music Sampler playlist on Spotify.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.