Mystified – Red Planet

Thomas Park is a staple of American experimental electronics, and has been active for a very long time. Mystified is one of his most prolific projects; since 2003 it has released more than 300 albums, mainly of atmospheric and/or abstract music of various types. Red Planet which, as is made obvious by the title, is inspired by the planet Mars, was originally released as one of many virtual albums back in 2009. It has now received a more ambitious treatment, and been remastered and re-released on CD and digital download by Latex Records.

There is another form of recycling going on here – one more directly creative in nature. Each track is based on one or more sounds taken from the CircleSlowChime longform piece, released on CDr in 2009 by the short-lived Dutch label Drô6n Records. Not having heard that particular piece of music, I am in no position to determine exactly how much of the source remains unaltered within the confines of Red Planet‘s eight tracks, but there are reasons to believe much has been modified and complemented by other electronics.

There are several styles represented here, including techno and ambient, but it should be say that they blend together very well and that the somewhat surreal, sci-fi atmosphere is constant enough to preclude any sense of a patchwork. The most obvious contrast is between non-rhythmic, or at least non-percussive, tracks like “02” and “04”, and the beat based ones, like “03” and “06”. The diversity does go further than that, though. In “05” there is a hint of noisy industrial, not entirely different from something by Deutsch Nepal or other dark ambient influenced industrial acts. “07” has a similar style, but with strangely placed drums and unease-evoking sounds that may or may not be a piece of a deconstructed chime.

Overall, from the strange beats of “01”, where sampled physical sounds of unclear origin combine with chiming synth sounds and soft pads to create something fascinating, to the rough edged ambient of “08”, Red Planet is an interesting ride. There is harmony and disharmony, rhythm and drone, shadow and light, and it is easy to see why Latex Records selected this particular album for reissue. If you like your electronic music strange but fairly accessible, you probably can’t find anything more suitable than this.

Get the digital download, or even better the extremely fairly priced CD, from Latex Records.

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