It’s hard to imagine that I first discovered Andrew Lagowski‘s work as the Search for Evidence of Terrestrial Intelligence (S.E.T.I.) over two decades ago, and ever since he has re-imagined and expanded upon his sound under various guises. But it seems like yesterday that I first spun his The Geometry Of Night, and to my amazement he was part of the new wave of ambient players who understood the darkside of lightness. This among others of the era were seminal to the way deep listening became critical to my understanding of navigating the auditory sense in general. And though it still seems fresh (timeless) to listen to his work, this newly minted collection offers several hours, over eight discs (w/a colorful twelve page booklet) and forty tracks (ranging from four to twenty-two minutes), to kick back and indulge within the vast foggy drones and transcendental undertones.
These Sleep Environments for Interplanetary Travel (or S.E.I.T.) do as they say, induce a dreamstate. In fact, I hardly even noticed the transition from any of the first four tracks (Ghosts, Entry Into Sleep, Child Stage, Enviromorph) while sitting here at my desk. It’s not that I am yawning, moreso staring into space, just thinking, but in a completely relaxed state of mind. It’s not until the latter of the mentioned tracks that the little electronic bird-like tweets flutter and tickle my ears a bit, that I am nudged to consider the sinewy layers melting around me. An amorphous drone groans in the background, as vague hoots echo through what sounds as if we may be in a cavernous jungle or even underwater. Whatever the location, this record gestates in a state of levitation.
“A mangled communication burst…a smattering of spy transmissions…broken broadcasts and ethereal interludes from an Earth long since abandoned by a stupid and brutal race. A race only occasionally capable of connecting to the cosmic wheel that gives our souls energy.”
I notice an ambiguous caw like a gaggle of geese passing gracefully on Flocking, tempered by a dimensional low bass pulsing that comes and goes. This is a deep-seated ambient work, quite epic as a whole concept, and brilliantly imbued with copious atmospheric tones that keep the ear open and engaged. More a long-form listen than about its individual parts per se Lagowski deserves much credit for developing enough expansive and intimate space here so one could, in fact, spend an entire day (or overnight) listening to this from end to end.
Its base essence may allow the perfuming of its contents to be either active or passive depending on the receiver, in other words you could certainly languish in meditation to this (or it could form a stunning background wall of ‘white noise’ for your everyday goings-on). It may seem like a much needed elixir in this light (and in our difficult social times), but tracks like 2K16 0414_P and Primary Gateway could be a bit too psychotropic – and if this is the case, limit your dosage of this work to a few hours and come back to it when the coast is clear.
Throughout you will hear far-ranging synths, muted chimes, grey area drones and other cosmic disturbances that will gently wake the senses. The collection makes no bones about its time signatures here, taking all the sweet time in the world to deliver something both robust and ethereal, a tricky feat for anyone attempting to create a work of such agile ambient abstraction without losing its audience. In fact, though it’s only January this is a strong contender for one of the best ambient records of the year (though it eeked out at the very tail end of 2018 during the holidays). Be prepared for a moody, tangential shape-shifter.
There are too many highlights here, and plenty of lost-in-R.E.M. apparitions to detail in full (Boundless Beyond, Lullaby, OTS 2), mainly because this is one of those truly rare mind/body vs time/space experiences that you can trip out to even if you are fully caffeinated. Some of this collection may be haunted, some is so quiet that it literally disappears into the woodwork (The End is a Loop, Dispersion) whereas other passages drift into the subliminal ether (Mind’s Eye, Drift), still other tracks take you by surprise with quirky effects (Aniwa, and the incredible closer, Nebulo 8). S.E.T.I. has broken into new territory and you can rest assured that these many hours of expansive and boundless open air sound forms will take you there and back – wherever that may be.