Space Music: Aphex & Gazelle Twins, Sinoia Caves


September was a good month for space music.

It's been a stretch since I've shared some Space Music, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to discuss some recent releases of note.

First of all, there's "Syro," Richard James' first new Aphex Twin studio album in 13 years. Along with Boards of Canada and Autechre, AFX stands as one of the cornerstones of so-called IDM or Intelligence dance music. It's a rough and ill-fitting genre classification, but one we've come to accept over time.

And speaking of time, 13 years is quite a drought, but I feel that "Syro" gives us the Aphex Twin album we'd come to expect after 2001's "Drukqs" and 2007's pseudonymous release "Rushup Edge" -- or at least an album that shouldn't surprise us.

Its a very accessible album, surprisingly melodic, and largely devoid of attention-seeking tracks intended to simultaneously engage and mock the popular music world. Oh, some of the music still has a wink to it. There's always a jester's spirit to James' work, such as the album's ridiculous liner notes and bio. But for the most part, I don't find myself wondering if he's having a laugh at my expense with this one.

"Syro" contains a number of gems. My current favorite is "xmas_evet10 (thanaton3 mix)," but the widely-circulated track "minipops 67 [120.2][source Field Mix]" is also a good indicator of what to expect:

"Unflesh" by Gazelle Twin

I was rather impressed by Gazelle Twin's debut 2011 album "The Entire City," but I didn't particularly hunger for another helping of the same meal. Fortunately, Elizabeth Walling has taken her ethereal sound into an even more alien direction for "Unflesh." The album resonates with an organic uneasiness -- the chaos of body horror delivered in the guise of an alternate reality pop release, or a Tori Amos album recorded in Hell. In other words, I love it. Give it a taste:

"Beyond the Black Rainbow OST" by Sinoia Caves

Finally, we have the long-awaited release of Sinoia Caves' original soundtrack to the 2010 psychedelic horror film "Beyond the Black Rainbow," a film that instantly impressed me with its visual and sonic power (the rest continues to grow on me). It only consists of seven tracks, but they bleed through you with a foreboding retro-synth pulse and dreamy VHS-era dream ambiance. Lose yourself in it:


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.