Back in the late 60’s and the late 70’s, there was a convergence in space, politics, technology, and time that would forever change the face of music. The place: West Germany, where the constant border with the Other of capitalism, channeled through the spatial reality of the Soviet Union, was fomenting constant unrest and ideological fermentation. Into this place was funneled a mix of German musical tradition (the great repellant of the time, tainted with the shadow of Nazism), American pop (detested for its immediacy and consumerism) and, most importantly, the technology of the synthesizer. Set alight by this combination, a series of artists channeled dark, psychedelic bands like Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, The Mothers of Invention through the mirror of avant-garde composers, jazz and more to create kosmiche Music, otherwise known as “krautrock”.
But, for our needs and purposes, the “cosmic” label will serve us better. This music blended with and created a new aesthetic, one replete with deep voyages into space (coinciding almost perfectly with the space race and it all promised/threatened), the rise of the machines that was overtaking the 70’s, copious use of psychedelic drugs, and science fiction influences. This new “cosmic” aesthetic can be seen in countless artists, from music and outside of it: Magma, David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowski, Kraftwerk, Amon Düül II, Syd Mead, and many more. The aesthetic became a staple of multiple scenes but, more than anywhere else, it took deep roots in electronic music, informing the sounds of techno, house, and beyond, as the “cosmic” sounds continued to evolve into grander and grander schemes.
Enter Baldocaster who, since 2018 when they released their first album, has been sailing deeper and deeper into the realms of deep, frigid space, where the distance from Earth seems to turn around and penetrate into our minds. Visions, his album released in May of this year, is perhaps Baldocaster’s most complete and ambitious release yet. Drawing heavy on the so-called “Berlin School”, 80’s dark electronic music, and, above all, the kosmiche propensity for massive synths, Visions is like reading a good, sweeping, epic science fiction book. It takes you on a journey, channeling the unique aesthetics of kosmiche music with a daft hand. The end result is an album that’s both engrossing on the “meta” level, on the level of its size and ambition, and also track by track, as the many tones unfold around you.
Check out “Moter” for an example; it starts off with these slowly building synths who are built to perfection to elicit a sense of scale and wonder in you. One can almost imagine a sun rising beyond a strange horizon, as the backing, bass-y tones slowly build (for maximum effect, play this quite loud on speakers). Later on, these massive waves of electronic music fall back to leave the sparse and dream-infused main theme of the track to be tenderly explored with supporting synths. Then, the punctual and robust beat is finally introduced, an odd and interesting choice, seeing as we’re right at the end of the track. But it works; the focus on the synths allows their tones to shine through, painting the broad canvas of “Moter” in many, scintillating colors.
“The Great Divide”, which follows “Moter”, is true to its name, presenting an even more sparse and darker companion to “Moter”. Here, the beat leads from the start, thumping strongly in the cosmic style that would later give darkwave and post-punk their thrust. “The Great Divide”, motivated always by the momentum of that beat, leads us deeper into its main theme before it crashes on a wall of electronic sound straight out of the heart of the galaxy. By then, we are already captives, sailing along on the solar/electronic wind of Baldocaster’s vessel.
In short, if its far-flung space voyages you crave, the lushest and most varied use of synthesizers, amazing production, and just an overall sense of cold, psychedelic, cosmic grandeur, look no further than Baldocaster’s Visions. It is an album to thrum both the walls of your room and your heart, a massive piece of work that also manages to be moving and impactful just as much as it is sweeping and ambitious. It is cosmic music at its finest, summoning the hope, rebellion, techno-optimism, and science fiction vibes of that moment in time and space which seems so long but awaits us just beyond the corners of our mind.