Wolstencroft still loves a good sample. In his early work, those source materials formed the main body, but on Planet 4 they're used more thematically, setting the mood. Opener "1979" has a lengthy clip from a call to Coast To Coast AM ("The Best Paranormal News Show"), in which the caller, claiming to be a one-time NASA worker, says she has knowledge that her former employer is covering up knowledge of human life on Mars. The sample is goofy but its conspiratorial tone, combined with an undulating synth, sets a foreboding vibe that's woven throughout the album.
The siren wails, crawling cadence and general creepiness of "The Unexplained" could almost pass for a soundscape from '90s trip-hop group The Prunes. "Dark Flow"—with its thudding kick, minor-key organ chords, piano riffs and ghostly vocal snippets—blends dark energy and barely-there sounds. The spoken-word intro that begins "Ring Round Heart" ("Where are you right now?" What book are you reading?"), sounds more accusatory than questioning, particularly when followed by stripped-down bleep techno.
But it's not all anxiety on Planet 4—a subtle, dreamy sound sometimes filters through, giving the album a few blissful gamma rays. The busy percussion of "Redsun," combined with its rubbery dub techno, adds a touch of agile funk, while the evocative synths of "Water On Mars" provide a serene counterpoint to the track's underlying percussion. "Here & Now" might the highlight. With its gently percolating bassline and synths draped over a bare-bones beat, it's the kind of halcyon house that, in a perfect world, would play as the moon sets on a woodland rave. It won't eclipse the memories of Working Night$, but Planet 4 is a streamlined and solid set of tunes, even if it could use some of Wolstencroft's early-career dynamism.