s p a c e w a v e



Liam Murphy

April 27, 2023

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Rich textures and patient melodic sequences play out an eerie but markedly noteworthy deep space experience

Space is an unconquerable sheet of darkness that lords over us. Its inky blackness, when revealed at night, explicitly reminds us of its infinite expanse. Voyager 1 is the object humanity has sent furthest into space, travelling almost 24 million kilometres from our humble blue dot. The grand, gaping hole that is space dwarfs this distance and will dwarf any other achievement of humanities for the near future as far as space exploration goes. It is bigger than we will ever know.

So, how does one communicate this expanse in music? If space outmatches anything we can possibly fathom, how do we seek to know it better, to connect with it through artistic means? Gustav Holst and his legendary release The Planets does a beautiful job of characterising the bodies that make up our solar system. Each track a planet, each planet with its own distinct mood and appearance, a wonderfully inventive selection of still life pieces. But is there a way of communicating what space could be like, passed the neighbourly aura that Holst’s solar system serenades emit? Can we relate to the nothingness of space?

Kratzwerk’s s p a c e w a v e attempts to convey space in all its expanse and mystery. Presented in a trio of meditative loops that push out cautiously. The instrumentation of all three is slow, with refrains being sent out some distance ahead of the listener and only coming back to their beginning after some time has passed, the slow march of these movements feeling like long undulations of a ships rotor through the dark depths of the unknown.

For instance, in the opening track b l a c k, soft layerings of concerned pads give a sense of darkness that ensnares us on every side, with a lone melody to chart our progress through space. This melody sometimes wavers from view, the high pitched lead instrument getting lost out in the distance. The focus is traded between the melody, representing our and Kratzwerk’s plight into the deep with the ever-present and unknowable pads representing our backdrop, lapping at the melody line in certain parts like the infinite closing in.

Kratzwerk also sets artistic scope toward the emotional weight of space on middle track e m p t y, sounding less like the sonic telling of a journey through space and more of a melancholic moment staring out of a suit’s visor at the crushing majesty of the nothingness, or even just the view of darkness, our perspective ripped of any humanising elements. A camera shot, slowly and unfeelingly venturing through space.

The final vision Kratzwerk illustrates for us is the longest of the three tracks. A numb but defiant tone filling the soundscape. Once again, there is the sensation of the empty space lapping against us. The thick hum does gradually open up, however. Almost like a planet revealing itself thousands of miles in the distance, invisible until the listener spots it, and its presence begins to dawn on them. This gradual realisation is joined by what has become an anchor point in the soundscape, a twinkly repeating synth, calling out into the darkness like the monotonous signal of a ship's lights. Like the droning lights of some great behemoth of the sea blinking its way through a grey nautical scene. Kratzwerk offers us nothing but the dark of space here though, a stillness beyond that of even the calmest seas. All of a sudden, around the six minute point, some source of light or life begins to reach out. Kratzwerk’s use of texture differentiating the sound so drastically, yet still keeping with this smooth, uneventful mood. As s p a c e w a v e draws to a close, a sense of completion does materialise through the invisible aether. A determined bass sequence rising up, peeling off into a catharsis almost 16 minutes in the making. A feeling of resolution washes over the listener while they sail through eternity. Effecting though still made ambiguous, the darkness begins to become alive with activity before the entire vision fades from reach.

The cosmic void is a fact of existence that our minds simply fail to compute. Here, Kratzwerk appropriates a penchant for grand and slow-moving soundscapes so often found in the music of dreamtone to try to create that void. The listener is offered hypnotic sequences, both teasing feelings of dread and delusion out in order to create an atmosphere of uncertain nothingness. The release can be incredibly calming, but when one does imagine the somewhat chilling notion of floating through space, Kratzwerk’s brilliance really begins to shine.