Lost in the noise


Recently, in a fit of wanting to clean up some aspects of my life — ergo, my office — I came across a CD-R that I had received some­where at the tail end of 2009. While cleaning, I put all the promos I couldn’t dir­ectly find MP3 record­ings of on a big pile and added them to the digital col­lec­tion.

I’m pretty sure that for some reason I had never listened to Environs 1 by Home Planet before. I really do listen to prac­tic­ally all promos I get, but somehow this one — and its sister album, a self-titled work by Trans­mis­sion, both made by Steve Lofkin — got lost in the noise. It might have been because I had just gradu­ated from uni­versity and started a new job at a book­store at the time — a few months later I had started doing my Cloud­scapes as an altern­ative form of cov­erage that was less time-consuming than writing reviews. In the end, it’s a poor excuse. These albums just got away from me.

Finally, then, the MP3s of this album found their way into my big digital “music to check out” folder, and soon enough it came around during a shuffle. And then I found out that Environs 1 is really nice. (Trans­mis­sion is prob­ably also really nice, but it’s this one I’ve been playing a lot and which there­fore gets the focus here.)

It’s a guitar-based drone album, though much more of the spacy floaty kind than the heavy one. Three long pieces paint — des­pite the name — pic­tures of alien worlds and land­scapes, with the first two tracks (“Landing” and “Orbiter”) bringing mys­ter­ious and fore­boding tones, though nothing out­right men­acing. There are layered loops of guitar here, with dif­ferent tex­tures and intens­ities, but not so many that the music would lose its light­ness.

The final track, “Touch Free In Rain”, is slightly dif­ferent: a place of thunder and rain. Rather than melodies and tones, obscure metallic scrap­ings and clangs accom­pany the extra­ter­restrial weather. Only about halfway through do the drones return, this time sug­gesting some­thing of an alien pres­ence, rather than just a land­scape. The piece is slightly darker, but never oppress­ively so. It’s more the feeling of impossib­ility of com­mu­nic­a­tion and con­cep­tual dis­tance rather than danger or viol­ence.

All of this makes for fine listening, the kind where you really feel your­self drifting to other planes and spaces. It would func­tion as an excel­lent score to games of (calm) space explor­a­tion, I ima­gine.

The funny thing is that upon examining the two promos, I could find no info on them what­so­ever online, nor on their cre­ator, Steven Lofkin. I do hope Evening of Light isn’t the only one Steve sent his CDs to, but whatever the case may be, no one seems to have picked them up, nor can I find a page for Steve’s music.

Why then, after over six years, this piece? It’s not that this is a life-changing album — I have a couple of similar-sounding ones on my shelf — but it is good. There’s some­thing tragic about the album’s fate, but ulti­mately that fate has been undeserved. I’ve reviewed many worse albums in my time, when my efforts would have been better spent dig­ging through my old promo pile to fish this one out.

Steve, if you’re reading this, sorry for my silence all these years, and thanks for sending me your music.

Update: Steve did read this, and you can find the Home Planet album with new titles, cover art, etc. on the Trans­mis­sion Band­camp.