There are two ambient acts called S.E.T.I. – both, as I understand it, take their name from the original S.E.T.I. Institute, as in Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Websites such as Wikipedia or allmusic seem to confuse the two and lump their releases/activities together.
One S.E.T.I. is made up of Taylor Deupree and Savas Ysatas, and they released several albums. While the two artists still collaborate, they no longer use the S.E.T.I. moniker.
The other S.E.T.I. is Andrew Lagowski, who uses other names (his own, Legion) as well as S.E.T.I., and still does perform/record as S.E.T.I. – he’s performing on May 24th at a festival in Germany.
The Geometry of Night by the Lagowski S.E.T.I. has had a lot written about it – just search the web, far more than I can do justice to or need to duplicate here. It has been around for a while – first released in 1996, but still available. The music is complex and often quite rhythm driven, though never really danceable. The rhythms drive the mood. The bass lines, the melodies, the choirs, the strings: it all swells together into something dark and brooding, though somehow uplifting. While I only listen to the album as a whole – it builds and swirls and demands this kind of extended listening – my favourite track is Mare Crisium: five minutes of sound development before any beat kicks in. This is precise and finely crafted music. Writing to this is energising and vital and gives a real vibrancy to my words.
You can stream the music from last.fm, or better yet, stream or purchase the download from bandcamp
Some writers write with children and dogs clambering and slobbering over them while the television blares and the elevated train blasts by the window every eight minutes and the neighbours down below argue about fishing trips and meter money. Others write in silence. I’m closer to the latter, but I do have music on pretty much always as I write. Sometimes it’s very mellow, other times a little more edgy. Here’s a selection of music which has sustained me through the task of drafting my novel.
Woob 1194 – a seminal ambient album that I’m lucky enough to actually own a copy of. Paul Frankland, the artist, has recently made the album, and some other tracks available again through bandcamp. Also listened to other em:t releases like Woob 4495, Gas 0095 and Undark 3396, as well some of the compilations.
S.E.T.I. – The Geometry of Night. This extraordinary album is somewhere between ambient and dance and science fiction. Some of the most startling rhythm patterns I’ve ever enjoyed. This is hard to find on CD, but it looks like he’s made it available on bandcamptoo.
Taylor Deupree – Northern. Taylor was part of the other S.E.T.I., not to be confused with the above (even though some sites do). Northern is minimal music, but as rich and full as can be, almost ambient but not quite. The original pressing (which I have) sold out, but Taylor did a re-issue which was a kind of re-visioning – reloading the original files with missing plug-ins so the sound is different, though I haven’t heard the new version.
Pitch Boys – O.S.T.. One of many remarkable releases on the Test Tube Netlabel (full disclosure, the Venus Vulture album Stick With Me Giselle, Things Can Only Get Better was released on Test Tube last year). O.S.T. is an hour-plus excursion into new realms.
Next post – rock.