15 Apr 2018

Retep Folo - Galactic Sounds

Ah 2018 begins to really swing into action with a new release on the ever dependable Clay Pipe Music. 'Galactic Sounds' by Retep Folo (or Peter Olof Fransson to you and I) signals a departure from the rather more earthbound and hauntological releases we have come to expect from this most exquisite East London based label. This new offering is concerned with more celestial matters although, it must be said, the fit with Clay Pipe is as strong as any other output despite a rather more cosmic frame of reference. It is a match made in the heavens.

So, 'Galactic Sounds' - a series of 16 often joyful soundscapes and playful sonic riddles, mainly driven by vintage keys and synths evoking that wonder of the universe many of us begin to engage with in childhood and often retain throughout the rest of our lives. Part reminiscence, part homage to 70’s library music and part futuristic hymnal musical adventure. The pieces here are simply constructed, allowing the visitor to wander in and out of them and to luxuriate in the gently compelling thinking space they offer. This approach, tastefully deployed, contributes to 'Galactic Sounds' being a resounding success and very worthy of your time.

As with any mission to the stars, a smooth take off is absolutely essential and opener ‘Galactic Pulse’ performs this feat perfectly, gently lifting off from the launch pad and sending us up toward the heavens. A combination of sparkling synth and vintage electronic rhythmic accompaniment providing all the fuel and direction we need. This is a first class sonic cabin and the only way is upward – would you like a Martini?

Picking out particular pieces for praise can be a rather futile exercise on this particular mission as everything hangs together beautifully but perhaps the dazzling optimism of 'Galactic Spring' is a good place to start. Its shimmering drifts of sound gently orbiting the listener, decorating the mind with all manner of lovely pictures. ‘Galactic Friends’ flutters and drifts gently across your minds eye, its awe and musing hidden beneath gaseous clouds of musical neon. 'Galactic Dream' recalls Bacharach as imagined by Isaac Asimov with its insistent major chord refrain giving it an almost 'Walk On By' quality. 'Galactic Cruise' is as close to a romp as anything on this fine record with a strange dislocated groove - part swinging bossa-nova and part bluesy supernova.

Elsewhere, the mood is more contemplative such as the interstellar waltz of 'Galactic Children' which threatens to send us into a lunar orbit that places us permanently witnessing a corona rather than dazzling sunshine. Similarly, 'Galactic Flare' has an undertow that warns the passenger that not all in the Universe is benign and that respectful distance is sometimes the order of the day.

Our tour of the galaxy is brought to a suitably cosmic conclusion by the deeply impressionistic and infinitely monolithic 'Galactic End'. A backdrop of deeply ecclesiastical organ drones coupled with an icing of starry skied twinkling filigrees of sound. Its a sonic message in a bottle sailing gently away from the gravitational pull of our Sun and heading serenely toward other distant, perhaps more peaceful worlds.

Thanks to ‘Galactic Sounds’ you, the active listener, have found your spot in the firmament and Retep Folo waves you a fond farewell as he recedes into the infinite distance. This has been a very satisfying voyage and one that I will be seeking to make again soon. I suggest you buckle up and do the same, after all, we are all made of stars.

'Galactic Sounds' is available on vinyl (with download) directly from Clay Pipe and from independent retailers of taste and discernment. Don't snooze on this one if you want a physical copy, Clay Pipe vinyl releases invariably sell out shortly after release.

Shaun C. Rogan

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