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Planetarium Music - Traditional Psychedelic Electronic Music (Planet 2)

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Artist: Planetarium Music

Album: Traditional Psychedelic Electronic Music (Planet 2)

Label: Strange Attractors Audio House

Review date: Jun. 1, 2002

You amble into a moody, circular cavern. Dark yellow house lights bounce off dust that probably contains flakes of skin from people that knew your folks before they knew each other. You punch the glowing red button beside the double doors. The house lights drop. Ten orbs, attached to the ceiling, spring to illuminated life, powered by interior bulbs, visible through their skin. You’re not sure what these orbs are made of. Plastic? Rubber? Thin paper? With a good running jump, you could knock one down. Yet, out of a fucked respect for this sort of obsolescence, you don’t. Ancient machinery groans and awakens, moving the nine peripheral orbs around the biggest, yellow one in the center. A soothing, pastel ‘50s Guy voice educates you on the solar system. The planet of the month is the recently discovered Pluto. Cheesy, sublime synth drones buoy the layman’s lecture. You begin to make out. With a vengeance.

Many such old school planetariums, like many the world’s remaining Intellivision consoles, have fallen beyond disrepair. They have nothing in common with the overwrought laser shows that’ve come since. They bear no resemblance, beyond the deeply abstract, to anything that actually exists. Out there. Thus, they set a scene unto itself. A room to get lost in.

Citing Tangerine Dream as an influence, Alex Bundy plays the sort of drawling, oozing, beatless psychedelia that could care less for breakbeats or samples - the sort you still might hear in the most run down of planetariums. This is the second disc his fascination with obsolete electronics has spawned; Planet 1 is out of print. He might burn you a copy, if you ask politely. In the writings on his website, he seems like a prince of a fellow. And you would be, too, if soaking in this sort of bliss, out of time and out of body, was your hobby. It’s proto-chill, conjuring memories of the days when proto-chill was cheap therapy for introverted stoners. More acid than ecstasy, but not quite either. The new age hadn’t barged in yet, and, judging from the pained, paranoid edge to some of this stuff (“Another World” and “Annual” in particular), Bundy still hasn’t heard the bad news. It ain’t total narcosis. It sure as shit ain’t “urban.” Solo escapism. For those who aren’t interested in peering through the telescope.

And yet, even in here, you know that there’s life inside and out of this cave. Creepy, squiggly, incandescent life. Beautiful life. The oscillating hum of “Tribute” won’t let you forget it. Plastic but pretty; it feels like pushing the button that lights up the swimming pool on the scale model of campus in the planetarium lobby. Life is easier to live with, in here.

As contempo entertainment becomes more and more vivid, Bundy represents those of us that ache for abstraction. And feel that, at least occasionally, things are prettiest (if not too beautiful) in their most abstract mode.

By Emerson Dameron

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