Jacco Gardner: Somnium
Jacco Gardner wasn’t born of this time. The Dutch-bred, Lisbon-based psychedelic composer twirled out of the gate with 2013’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which sounded like a long-lost Zombies record buried on some distant shore. But on Gardner’s third album, Somnium , he’s thrown out traditional song structure—and his own vocals entirely, for that matter—to create an instrumental exploration that’s fitting to help you focus at work or float off into space on your next intergalactic voyage. You won’t be singing along here, but Somnium ’s spiderweb melodies and rich textures will burrow deep into your psyche. The album was inspired by the 1608 Johannes Kepler novel, considered one of the first works of science fiction. That influence comes through—this is the sound of space we imagined before we got there. The most easily graspable of Somnium ’s 12 tracks build on a single, repetitive but transforming melody while Gardner’s arrangements of churning, clip-clopping percussion, scuzzy electric guitars and twinkling, alien keys dance below. At its best, the record will have you spinning along, no matter if you’re in an office chair or on an evening stroll. Take “Privolva,” a bouncing, quivering, sixminute mirage of a tune that sounds like what the Star Wars cantina band could’ve evolved into on hour four of an acid trip. It’s immediately followed by “Pale Blue Dot,” a warbling, Enoesque ambient journey that really just serves as a bridge to the rest of the album. As an experiment, Somnium succeeds. You can almost hear Gardner whispering: Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.