“This is evil music for evil people,” declares Coyote Power on the release page of Starship Earth I: Evil Sea. Not exactly; I’d just call it dark. Or perhaps I’ve turned evil in the past few days, because I do enjoy this sort of music. A recent Entertainment Weekly editorial feature bemoaned the plethora of songs in popular culture, ranging from television (“The Voice”) to movies (“Rock of Ages”). The writer saw Prometheus because he knew the soundtrack would be heavy on mood and devoid of big numbers. Starship Earth I & II (Evil Sea and Ursa Minor) sounds like the score to that film: barren, uncompromising and bleak.
These two releases are available separately as cassettes, and are part of a larger project due to be released this fall. This project may or may not include all of the tracks featured here, so those who enjoy them shouldn’t wait to pick them up. While the length of the cassettes is a bit uneven at nineteen and six minutes, they flow together well as a suite. With music such as this, it’s not about the individual tracks as it is about the cumulative effect, which in this case is one of claustrophobic menace. This being said, it’s still safe to point out that Evil Sea‘s “Evil Terrible City” (what’s with all the evil?) is the tipping point, as persistent percussion appears for the first time, a driving force in the midst of the growing gloom. Until then, it’s all blotches and hints. A dotted synth pattern fades in and out like a threat lurking beyond one’s peripheral vision. A single guitar line slides beneath a murky cloud. This sense of restraint is admirable, and hopes are high that the forthcoming album will emulate the flow of the opening salvo. ”Evil Terrible City” is when we first see the monster; its delayed appearance adds to the impact of the story. The fuzzy drone that rises in this piece continues to accumulate density in the next, setting up the second installment.
Ursa Minor follows the bloops and bleeps of Evil Sea‘s closing track with a more musical drone, although no one in their right mind would call it accessible. It’s a sputtering creature struggling to break through the walls, rattling and wailing in the recessed corners. Occasionally the volume jumps like startled prey. Six minutes is not long enough for this trio of tracks, but it’s only a taster. The apocalyptic battle in the airlock is still to come. (Richard Allen)