Title: From Mars To Earth
Artist: Joost Egelie
Release Date: 2014 Sept 28
Genre: Berlin School Electronic
License: CC BY-SA
Label: United Studios Corporation (USC)
In my previous review (brokenkites: Deus Ex Communication) I took the artist to task for using the same hooks, and dated sounds in his recording. So why would Joost Egelie’s From Mars To Earth have a higher rating when the premise is that it relies on a style of music and musical sounds that are decades older? The answer is in the review below.
Joost Egelie: From Mars To Earth
There are a few artists who are still exploring the Berlin School of electronic music. Tales is an example that jumps immediately to mind. But it often seems that most of the exploration of an older style is a tribute or a nod to that style. It’s less often that artists are exploring an older style and coming up with new ideas, or exploring in new directions. This seems to be one of the major factors that separates artists on the USC label from their compatriots.
Joost Egelie is proof of this point. On From Mars To Earth, he explores the idea that once we have sent a party to another planet to establish and base, and Terraform it into an environment suitable for human beings, it is unlikely that the mode of transportation that got us there would still be available for a return trip.
In this situation, we would adapt. We would find an explore new technologies, we would build a new form of transportation to allow us to travel back to the place we originated from. And, in returning to that place (in this case earth) we would be bringing new technology back. And, in his words:
Things learnt on Mars may form the key to saving Earth, because by the time we return home with our knowledge of terraforming, the Blue Planet may be badly in need of this process too. A ship carrying hope for the future…
Musically Joost’s choices of style, texture and structure reflect this idea: mixing the old and the new. Sending the technology out into the unknown, only to return with the same essence, but changed by time, distance and experience.
There are little details throughout this recording that reflect that concept. For example, on Docking a voice that is likely to be a computer, sounds more like Siri speaking through a headset that slightly modulates the voice. It’s understandable and familiar, and yet slightly different from what we would normally expect. A sequenced line in the piece will sound familiar to listeners of Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk, and yet there are more variations as oscillators and envelopes change in ways that weren’t as easily accomplished in the 1970’s.
And, instead of sticking with anonymous voice samples, or strongly historic samples, Joost chooses to use the voice of Barack Obama on the track Pioneers to address the issues of space travel and the future. This puts the work into a current perspective, updating the work to be contemporary instead of historic.
Even the recording reflects updated techniques. One track features multiple sequencer lines panned to the outside of the left and right channels, which alone would have been difficult in the past. However, on this recording the rhythm and synthesizer lines that are in the middle of the image aren’t left alone: they are re-equalized, faded in and out, and manipulated in a manner that is more in keeping with current DJ techniques than anything that Kraftwerk did.
This is a work that is very solidly rooted in the Berlin School of electronic music. It’s immediately comfortable to anyone familiar with Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and other synthesizer wizards of the 1970’s. However, on more considered listening, the subtle changes in the style, arrangement and engineering of this work become noticeable. It’s not a work that is stuck in time, rather it’s a perspective on how the concepts and ideas of the past might be transformed if they were passed through a different technology. If they were sent into space with a small group, who eventually had to create new technology to travel back to their home.