If we accept that a speculative element is native to fiction then we should apply that to music as well. Not every story is meant to place the reader firmly on the ground and nor is every recording. Some of the best music for writers, I find, leaves me guessing.
Sumatran Black is a Turkish label/artist offering a wide variety of music through their Bandcamp page and much of it for free. One of those recordings, Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut is pure cosmic atmosphere.
The opening track, “The Mission” is the longest and the slowest building of the three. It opens gradually. What I can only describe as the sound’s aperture gradually widens with lightly strummed guitars sounding a warning in the distance.
The song is like the sound of a void revealing itself. Over its ten minutes, the sound barely registers above a delightfully bleak astral murmur.
The next two tracks (“Is This Heaven” and the title track) are shorter but they introduce more prominent instrumentation. Sumatran Black works in synthesizers layering in over the omnipresent drone until it crests into an unresolved burst of sound.
There is a historical precedent in Elegy that of Russian cosmonauts lost in outer space. This is a bit of frightening conspiratorial folklore leftover from the Cold War but it is also a very cool idea for the imagination. For me, that little connection and suggestions helps, giving me a realistic thread to connect to the album’s fantastic overall feeling.
Elegy is only three tracks long, but it is vast and hopeless and utterly beautiful all at the same time. I was staggered by it in my first listen and still, dozens later, still finding little wrinkles. Ultimately, it may end up being my favorite music for writers album of 2019.
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