Heard revisits the space theme alongside the vocalist Chad White on Virtual Emotion, whose four tracks are described as "otherworldly future-house concepts." They're chillier than usual. "Supernova"'s rasping bass is etched on like a frown line. On "Virtual Emotion," digital keys stab urgently against vapour-trail pads and celestial ambience. This would be hair-raising stuff were it not for White's affected vocals. He's both spurned lover and Silver Surfer on "Virtual Emotion"'s main mix. "The cosmos is vacant / No worlds left to seek / More cryptic details I must release," goes one line. Space and romance are an equally odd couple on "Supernova," where White, after comparing a woman to a big bang, sings, "stars need their space." (Some vocals remain on the dub versions, where Heard continues to show an easy command of his craft.)
You Rock Me / The Sun Can't Compare, released 11 years ago, captured a special chemistry between Heard and White. Compared with the tracks on Virtual Emotion, "The Sun Can't Compare," with its down-to-earth lyrics and lullaby cadence, felt like a naturally expressed love song. On "You Rock Me," he sang with a similar ease over Heard's snappy piano house beat. These timeless songs were enriched by White's heartfelt words. Virtual Emotion only shows that some things are better left unsaid.