I am more than happy to be sent into space, the further the better and some may even say I permanently reside there. This takes me nicely onto this doom, drone, ambient, noise project The Soviet Space Programme composed by cosmonaut Thomas Jude Barclay Morrison who actually resides somewhere around County Durham rather than the expected Vladivostok. Continuing exploration of a theme that has intrigued man from the early classical days of Holst through to Hawkwind via The KLF and Darkspace this is a journey well worth buckling up for as far as any space cadet is concerned. It’s described by its innovator as ‘Communist Rocketsludge for acid casualties’ which made me all the more keen to take the trip and that’s exactly what I did. Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space.
Before I get to the music I should mention this was presented on a fetching red cassette tape complete with box and everything nicely co-ordinated in this style. I believe this is limited to just 50 so if you missed that particular space race you can go to the link below and download or stream it for yourself. We get 5 tracks that are on the whole epically long enough to have you de-freezing after stasis and the first of these ‘I Left My Heart In Baikonur Cosmodrome’ squeals in setting things up for this 75 minute episode of lost in space! It’s a caustic beginning and one gives the feel that things could have gone wrong for our intrepid explorers. The immediate thoughts range from Dark Star to Silent Running or even deeper shit like Saturn Three, Event Horizon or Alien! Ghostly voices echo amidst the shrill feedback like an emergency transmission but one can only wonder if this particular spaceship is a graveyard and if anyone is still alive to hear them. Hugely elongated notes are wrung out and vibrate around the 18 minute running time and it kind of makes your ears almost bleed as though there’s been a sudden dramatic drop in atmospheric pressure. Play this loud and the neighbours will be queuing up to buy you a one way ticket straight out the solar system. Possibly before these calamitous events occurred things are much mellower with “Thirteen Years in a Tin Can, Living on Institute of Space Science Food Substitute Paste.” On the whole this is much more ambient albeit with a sense of danger and abandonment behind it. There’s a glistening, glittering vibe like satellites drifting out of orbit and stars twinkling away on it. It takes me to another place and although I have not experimented with it yet I think it would be the perfect audio companion to The Clangers rather than anything else. Music trees ring, the soup dragon stirs the pot and The Iron Chicken flutters its wings as Major Clanger grumpily stomps around in his brass armour. It’s probably not the sort of comparison the artiste ever expected but it works perfectly for me over the 20 minute soundscape.
‘The Zero Gravity Toilet Is Malfunctioning Again’ is the sound of machinery running amok. Perhaps revolting after Lister has flushed one too many chicken vindaloo excretions down their pipes. It’s a caustic and abrasive melange of contorted sounds and shrill mechanical chaos that again is far from easy listening and for ¼ of an hour this one shudders and judders away building up the sonic frequencies to near alien proportions. ‘In Space, No One Can Hear Your Prayers’ serves as a brief interlude of what is probably a prayer sung in Russian before the final 21 minute piece ‘Dead Signal.’ Now this one is really going to separate the listeners from the ones that turn it off, as it is as suggested simply low fuzzy noise. The radio silence does not change from beginning to end, the air has run out and this is the sound of a dead wreck drifting through space waiting for possible salvage in years to come. Careful though, it could have something nasty lurking on board waiting to be reactivated. As far as anyone attempting to listen themselves though skipping this will not mean you miss anything although it’s not an ideal solution on tape as you will have to fast forward to start again.
All in all though, an interesting and immersive experience for experimental musicologists and interplanetary explorers to partake in.
(7/10 Pete Woods)