‘Synthesizers In Space’ is an instrumental opus of vintage music. Psychedelic synths and the analogue recordings of bass, drums and guitars drive the listener in the direction of too-many-genres-to-mention (e.g. krautrock, garage, funk) of earlier decades. Honestly, coming back to music styles of the past opens innumerable possibilities for the music creator to choose, manipulate and reconfigure sounds and forms in order to generate something new according to the her/his perspective. The artist is at the controls and it depends on her/his degree of knowledge and desire for original expression.
Shawn Lee has declared his passion for vintage sounds throughout his previous work. With a renewed interest stemming from his latest discovery, the ‘mystery box’ – a vintage synth instrument he found at the ‘Switched On’ music store in Austin, TX -, he embarked on a retro intergalactic trip full of spacey, buzzing sounds. The analogue production predominates, with a smoky, earthly and almost primitive rhythm section as accompanied by otherwordly, spacey synths. The production is successful in that it glues together all those diverse influences in a coherent set. There is both knowledge and the desire for original expression here.
There are more than a handful of songs that impress like the prolonged break beat drumming of ‘Celestial Waltz’ paired with plentiful astro bleeps. As Lee revealed: “I use a lot of keyboards, but it’s not wall-to-wall synthesizers. The foundation is drumming – real drums played in real time – and captured on analog tape for that crusty, magnetic sound that I like.”
Other notable moments include the delicate melodies of the cosmic spell titled ‘Bossa Nova Seela’, which brings some of the hypnotic meditation of ‘Planet Caravan’ into the fore and the percussive orgasmic bizarre of the album’s closer ‘Tiger Style’ which rediscovers some of the greatness of ethio-jazz luminary Mulatu Astatke. In ‘Boogie Children (Saturn Day Night)’ Shawn Lee carves his murky way between fuzzy garage and glam rock while in ‘Lost In The Shuffle’ he presents his own version of dirty surf’a’delica.
This album is solid while it shifts effortlessly between different terrains. Although it flows fluently it demands some attention to discover all its tricks and twists. All in all, Shawn Lee added another competent set in his prolific collection of recordings, which already counts more than 30 albums. We can only wish him then to keep up with creativity in his rapid productive pace.