In 1608, Johannes Kepler wrote the novel Somnium. Regarded as the world’s first work of science fiction, four centuries later Jacco Gardner has taken its journey into space as the inspiration for his third album. Albums like this send music journalists into a frenzy of right-clicking for synonyms, and, indeed, the thesaurus only has so many entries for space-age, dream-like and cosmic. They jolt us into a scramble for touchstones that might adequately explain to our readers what the strange new sounds produced by these vibrations of air can be reasonably compared to. And, indeed, if you’re a fan of Tangerine Dream, NEU!, Brian Eno or Mike Oldfield, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll enjoy this too.
But ‘Somnium’ is not pastiche. There are touches of space rock, krautrock, prog and ambient, yes, but what does that really tell you? If you haven’t actually experienced ‘Levania’’s wiry bass grooves, gorgeous analogue synth arpeggios and eerie Hank Marvin guitar lines, I may as well read you out the instructions for a flat-pack wardrobe for all the good it will do to try to describe it. I’ll tell you this, though: if Radiohead had the balls to release this, we’d be talking about ‘Somnium’ as a classic.