Murcof’s new album is the soundtrack for an audiovisual project called Cosmos, and it's a grand departure from his earlier work. Martes sat perfectly on the crest of a classical-sampling wave when it was released on Leaf in 2002, sounding fresh and lush in the midst of the dry clicks and cuts minimalism of the day. But the Mexican’s trajectory has since veered from the path he set down. He’s retained the lush textures (now real instruments playing sequences composed specifically for the album), and some of his earlier beat orientation, but his ambitions have become engorged with classical monumentalism.
The six tracks on Cosmos are bombastic compared to Murcof’s previous output, and even makes the sombre Remembranza (2005), apparently a tribute to his dead mother, seem lightweight. The operatic opener, 'Cuerpo Celeste', is a shocker (interpret that how you will): Nine minutes of heavy, dark drones periodically drowned out by pipe organs and choir sample assaults. If you make it to the end of this one, the next few tracks will be a relief, but not for too long. The grandiosity arcs near the end of the album, setting the scene for the disturbing finale, 'Oort'. The style of Cosmos is indeed, as Leaf PR suggests, closer to Hungarian composer György Ligeti (best known for the opera, Le Grand Macabre, and Kubrick soundtracks 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining etc), Coil, or even Sunn O))) than Murcof. Corona has plunged determinedly into macro modern-composition territory and left micro-electronica far behind.
Now based in Barcelona, the Tijuanan has just embarked on a tour to support the new album, playing shows in the Planetariums of Europe. Which brings us back to the main point. The album is part of an audiovisual show: a show that involves video projections of sublime heavenly bodies in the comfort of a dome designed specifically for that purpose. Perhaps the majesty of the projections above will render the soundtrack less overblown? Tone it down somehow? We can only hope. A recent live show of Raster-Noton label boss Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto) also had a kind of sci-fi bombast to it. Perhaps this new melodrama is a way out of the micro cul-de-sac, and a sign of things to come.