There’s a moment in all the best weird sci-fi of the 70s and 80s, where are hero/avatar looks out upon the world to see that ‘everything has changed’. In the best, this change is imperceptible to the eye, taking place entirely in the mind of our hero, and thus us. So given the inherent limitations of cinema when it comes to showing us the mind, the filmmakers wisely resorted to sound.
So we stand, gazing across a desert landscape, at the sinisterly modernist buildings that, we’ve just discovered, house an affront to all that we hold dear. The hero knows this. We know this. We are about to struggle for the survival of what we understand to be humanity but first, this epiphany needs to be acknowledged. The horror momentarily addressed.
Enter the synth.
What’s great about New Age music of the 70s and its symbiotic relationship with science fiction is how both co-opted the formally utopian idea of the synthesiser and placed it in unnerving contexts. New Age used it to evoke another state, to hold out the possibility that there was more, outside of organised religion and political movements. Science Fiction used it to evoke another state, to hold out the possibility that while the world was having a nervous breakdown, there might be something worse.
Which is why, when I look longingly at the artwork at the top of the page and listen to Canada Effervescent’s beautiful oscillating drones, I feel a slight sense of unease.
Canada Effervescent’s Rayon Solaire Holistique is that moment of beautiful dread. It is that sonic encapsulation of something outside of ourselves that, at the sharp end of evolution, we’re struggling to grasp. The low drone that underpins the entire track is almost lulling yet sufficiently sinister to keep you alert. The (appropriately enough given the name of the album) crystalline synths that dance around it feel indistinct, like a mirage if a mirage was merely our mind’s way of dealing with the impossibly beautiful. And these two forces slide past each other, eternally probing your ability to comprehend what terror or beauty is in front of you. At least for four minutes.