MiG Music 2022
British sound sculptor goes space-trucking in search of spiritual rapture.
With “Doctor Who” and “Paul McCartney” entries on his résumé, Harvey Summers’ musical credentials are well established, yet they hardly reflect sonic cinematography of his solo oeuvre. Over the years, the English composer’s albums often strayed into the new-age territory only to return to the cosmic reverie of his debut “Dream Spinning” – which the master started creating three decades ago, when he was 17 – with “Moon” whose wordless imagery is as stunning as anything the space-impressed youngster could aspire to produce without becoming an astronaut. Of course, the likes of Vangelis and Rick Wakeman have already been out there, but while they visited Jupiter and Mars, Summers focuses here on a celestial body that’s more down to Earth and doesn’t require a lot of Holst influence to take off.
What emerges from the first passages which unfold the view at “Dreams Of Another Sky” in front of the listener’s mind eye is a fragile aural cathedral that Harvey’s ivories gradually construct out of multiple instrumental layers to top with an approximation of female vocalese and rapturous solemnity, 8-bit effects oscillating against organ plateaus, before “Departure” offers an orchestral march and the short “Earth Orbit” a sort of oratorio. However, “Telemetry” introduces a prog rock texture to the pulsing flow, via percussive accents applied to strings-drenched waves, whereas the two-part “The Void” gets wrapped in synthesizer-shaped cocoon, until “Spacewalk” delicately treads on a piano line towards the pop-symphony of “Lunar Orbit Insertion” and the pale grandeur of “Descent” whose dramatic moves are arresting.
But if the scintillating “Small Steps” is ethereal, the effervescent “Earth Rising” feels palpable, its bass-propelled melody welcoming and warm; and if the riff-rippled, though still serene, “Sleeping L.E.M” finds form in deceptive abstractness, “The Journey Home” proposes a powerful comedown, acoustic keyboards weaving poignant patterns over a cello-chained and brass-brandishing backdrop. Perhaps, that’s the most perfect way to evoke the tidal pull of our planet’s natural satellite in pure sound – alluring yet ever distant, and enchanting yet ever alien.