Review: Polestar – Space Expanses

Polestar’s ‘Camplex’ EP was the first CD I had the chance to review from Boltfish Recordings. Since then it’s been my pleasure to write about a great number of further releases from this frequently entertaining label. It’s encouraging to see how Polestar’s Jon Elliott has grown as an artist as well. ‘Space Expanses’ is inspired by the ambitious (and frankly daunting) idea of merging outer solar system exploration with progressive rock.

‘Welcome To Space’ says it all. Though it’s partly filled with glitchy electronics, the clean retro-futurist melody conveys a nostalgic look at other worlds from a time when Star Trek was the nearest we would get to it. Thus the album continues in endearing form: never threatening to set a new musical agenda but always eager to please with another sweet tune. In fact, some of the tracks seem more suited to computer games rather than soundtrack work.

Those looking for a more edifying listening experience should find ‘Polaris Theme’ and ‘EVA Dance’ far more enlightening. Beyond the R2D2 bleeps and further glitches, the mood is lonely and melancholic. Meanwhile, ‘Return To The Moon’ assembles several layers of digital tricks into a haunting, lovely centrepiece and ‘Space Junk 1970’ possesses a peculiarly faraway beauty.

Even if it does cast a pale shadow compared to Avrocar’s stunning space-themed album from this year, ‘Space Expanses’ should be judged in its own right for taking a naive, straightforward and tuneful approach to exploring unchartered territory. It’s a little superficial but enjoyable nonetheless.

Web Sites:
Polestar MySpace
Boltfish Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Avrocar, Vangelis


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