Listencorp review image of solarpunk a possible future by various artists

Solarpunk: A Possible Future

Various Artists


Liam Murphy

March 11, 2021

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

An incredibly talented collection of artists provide a look into an alternate universe bursting with vitality and hopefulness

It can be quite easy and enticing to engage in artistic self-injury when it comes to abstract electronic music. We often find ourselves exploring the negative aspects of humanity through such means, punishing ourselves. This kind of art communicates a dishevelled world as a way of warning against a future we are almost inevitably catapulting towards. The eerie and heavy synth conveying the supremacy of faceless machines, the menacing chords reiterating the hubris of humanity in allowing technology or harmful industry to trample over their sense of morality. But what if we could utilise the same types of musical methodologies and sounds to create something encouraging? Something that inspires progress and asks us to imagine a world in which technology has helped us to heal the increasingly exhausted world we live in? This is very much the intention of Global Pattern’s Solarpunk: A Possible Future, a compilation striving to explore the convergence of sustainability and technology and further the artistic insights into the Solarpunk movement.

ASSET 4 by ECOLOGY141 is an incredible way to enter into the compilation. So much power is enshrined in the instrumentation, the sounds feel like they hold so much weight. There are thick membranous chords that whip up into high resonant whistling, a harsh percussive breakthrough that is over fleetingly but harbours a progressive energy rather than a destructive one. The lead melody is so sharp and organic it could be the sound of some otherworldly insect rubbing its wings together. It is a perfect entry point into a vibrant and positive environment. 

Bubble Keiki takes things a little more slowly, crisp recorded sounds of birds and running water enveloping the listener early on. Glistening glacial notes emerge from the natural landscape, alongside deep chords that take the melodic narrative of the track with them. We are around a quarter of the way through the 9-minute runtime when everything falls into a slow and serene stride. Great reverberating notes stretch out as if they are played on some huge metallic entity. There is a slight sombreness about the path the melody takes, but the overwhelming feeling is one of tranquility. Network Gardening presents a loving embrace between natural growth and human emotion. Quaint tunes played out amidst the sound of enormous expansion and progress, like a farmer patiently tending to an infinite field of waving green.

Guardian wallows in very low territory at first, settling the fundamental brushstrokes of a far-reaching scene upon the canvas. The drawling sound of a church bell beckons gliding synths and rumbling bass to the fore. 暗号零 brings that sense of the sublime from their own projects, instilling enormous limbs of instrumentation with a real, hopeful melodic narrative. The track moves elegantly and slow, but with a preternatural magnitude.

Back down to terra firma with heavy rain splashing against exotic flowers and plants. Earth View fills the backdrop of Dream Seeds with the hum of animal activity, and through this comes a swirling, slightly inebriated saxophone line. The percussion is heavy, with an ever-present locomotive-style rhythm fringed with the crying of birds and felines alike. With a system of living that promotes the free growth of nature, there will inevitably be those areas that hum with a suffocating warmth and harbour a danger to humans. It feels as though one of these areas is what the artist displays to us through the track. 

y o u r d i s c o v e r y gifts us the first glimpses of human life in this Solarpunk environment. After breathy samples begin to swirl around a calm atmosphere, spiritual voices call into the aether. As quickly as the listener recognises the voice as human, it evaporates with the vibrant synth melodies. The artist uses the voice and the rest of the instrumentation to build momentum and push the sampled sequence into a constantly phasing rhythm. The voice calls out ‘Spirit of the moon’, as if it is willing the grounding powers of the earth and the mystic lunar energy together in a beautiful partnership.  

The ability of these artists to paint such a vivid picture in what can sometimes be fairly brief durations is astounding, and very apparent in PJS’s Blend. Wonderfully multicoloured melody gives way to a deep thrum of bass as the two begin to coalesce in a slow but natural mesh. Something in the glittering patterns the eternal notes create is reminiscent of the deep and explorative music of spiritual jazz. Like a boundless field of grass in the sun, there is a beauty about the euphoria that is refreshing on an existential level.

Switching up the momentum, Swedish producer zkribbles presents plantronica, a glimpse into a pixellated Solarpunk experience. The great expansive atmospheres are replaced with a quaint and restricted vibrancy. You can almost see the 8-bit trees and shrubberies swaying in the cool breeze. But for all its tranquility, the percussion that drives the track forward does help to present this atmosphere of progression and growing vitality.

The sound of static energy jumping from one flower bud to the next gives way to a great swathe of melodic energy on Skyriding. There is a sense that life is gradually awakening in something, these small sparking sounds giving energy to some huge celestial being as things begin to flow more intensely. ExMemory does well to work in electronic blips of arpeggiation seamlessly into the large movements of euphoria. With the lack of percussion, this sense of unlimited and untethered life breathes through the track. The energy is not hunkered down by low notes, instead the delicate nature of the sounds cause the track to have an consistently upwards trajectory. 

Rayos de Sol descends toward the listener through resonant bells slowly blooming overhead. What follows is a measured and almost orchestral momentum communicated through subtle touches of bass. Lunitas’ addition to the compilation sounds like sun rays christening the earth’s atmosphere. There’s a general shimmer to everything, the main melody moving from resonant notes that reach out, to quaint chimes that rest softly against the instrumentation. Then, all of a sudden those chimes reach through the atmosphere and down toward civilisation, becoming calming washes of deep pad. The artist accomplishes this unique meshing of hallucinatory ambient and almost classical storytelling in their music. 

A folky addition comes in the form of Light Blending In’s Snowy Sunset. Phased guitar notes with a contrasting abruptness are set in front of the listener. As the descending scale is worked through, the artist augments the tune as other melodies peel off. Though the track is the shortest on the compilation, the artist’s delivery pulls no punches and provides a truly organic experience. 

A long drawling note as bezvlastje’s Prostor begins. This note is held and little else perforates the track save for a little humming background noise. It feels as though the there is a distinct focus on the concept of energy creation in this track. What we listen to feels like it comes from beneath the flowery eco-parks, or far off into space. The utopian visions of solar punk are stripped away here, and what is left is that promise of eternal energy and power laid bare. 

Tim Six sets a beautifully simplistic and sporadically timed melody amidst pillows of soft synth pad. There is a sonic journey in the slow growth of the backdrop. But the repetitive trilling melody communicates a sense of relaxation, before it is submerged by the thick and unending vein of bass and middle frequency hum. Animals call out on either side, but the listener’s focus is drawn towards this irresistible light and energy permeating from the very centre of the mix. 

Polite conversation scatters across the soundscape, buckling under a dominant tannoy voice that announces the status of the current flight or journey. From here, a wonderfully intricate, analog-sounding sequence takes over. Light keys and wavering notes convey the feeling of weightlessness as we lift off the ground, the chattering algorithmic loop reassuring us of our safety. All we need to do is sit back and enjoy ourselves. Cyber Surfer 3D‘s Eco Transit Center is an exploration into how modes of travel that are burdened with destructive carbon footprints could be reimagined. They could be reinvented with all of their utility and none of their regrettable damage to the earth’s fragile ecosystem.

Next, Global Pattern’s Solarpunk compilation provides an important moment in the introduction of バーチャルボーイAtsu’s new side project M o o n l i g h t T e m p l e. The track Light of the Rising Sun finds the artist reaching skyward with optimistic synth chords that glide toward the horizon. These chords are joined by percussion, the artist careful not to be overbearing with it and entrust the progression to come from this sense of hopefulness conveyed by the melody. 

S O A R E R provides a song dedicated to the faceless hero behind such movements towards sustainability and eco-awareness, Mother Nature. A melancholy piano sequence repeats as delayed remnants of notes clash together in a phased swirl. The track does not falter from this fairly warning tone. Perhaps in a world of harmony between humanity and nature, one must always remind themselves of the struggle and pain that the organic world around them has been put through as a stark warning never to repeat the same mistakes again.

A twinkling, starlit key melody takes centre stage on from tokyo to honolulu’s track Fantasia 24. A delicious mirage-like gauze on everything sets the track at a distance from the listener, behind air thick with heat and life. The artist has this incredible ability to gather notes together that hold steady, but give a real sense of freedom and improvisation. Every now and again, a frenzy of panpipe notes will rise up through the murky, sun-kissed landscape providing a momentary wash of hydration. With from tokyo to honolulu there is often this fuzz of nostalgia that breathes through everything, and this track is no different. But it feels like a postcard from an alternate past, where we grasped the power of nature earlier and lived lives in complete harmony with our surroundings.

We end with an odyssey provided by Second∞Sight. Aqueous percussion submerges everything in azure shallow water. For what is the second time on the compilation, voices find their way into this vision of a green future. Once again, these voices exist almost completely woven into the backdrop instrumentation. The human being treated merely as another part of something much greater than themselves. Can we even identify the voice as overtly human? The artist manipulates the voice to an artificial or nonhuman extent, it could be an indelible imprint of positive humanity on nature. An imprint that does not seek to harm or gain from the natural world like it so often does in our current world, but rather tells a tale of how the two forces met and worked together for mutual gain. Second∞Sight keeps things far from the listener, we hear the remnants of the original sound as it reaches us over an unfathomable distance. It is a fitting conclusion to the Solarpunk experience. It was so vivid a vision as we traversed through the compilation, and now this final artist obscures it under layers of mist and fog subsequently causing it to disappear from existence. Tomorrowland reveals the imaginative and utopian nature of the movement itself as the compilation is brought to a close.

Art has gifted humanity the ability to glimpse into the future and marvel at what might be possible throughout history. Though our current world may lag behind when it comes to realising and utilising nature’s energy, the artists on this compilation are bold and unabashed in their visions of a Solarpunk future. Each track provides a thought-provoking and rewarding glimpse into what could be if we are to fully wed humanity’s power together with that of nature.

More info on Solarpunk: