Abre Ojos – Spiral Galaxy (Self-released)

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Melbourne electronic ambient producer Abre Ojos’ website leads with the claim of “sound and vision for a dystopian vision’ which is an ominious claim for an act whose moniker means “open your eyes’. Definitely Scott Baker’ work plays with a good deal of dramatic portent akin to the epic dark industrial and gothic sensibility along with a playful staging of ocular imagery. The comparative music analogies are perhaps a caricature as there are is not a large popular bank of space inspired audio, beyond the work of Dr Fiorella Terenzi, the KLF or any number of boffin radio astronomy works, to clearly define it as an accessible genre with it’s own set of referential codes. But if you are willing to move past the sense of drama and staging to the interplay of the music with the astronomical photography of Marek Dobiecki being woven as if into a quasi creation mythos retelling of the birth of galaxies, then you may receive a sense of the import created by the devices.

Each track on the DVD is named after the principle image used in it’s construction and Spiral galaxy in Reticulum, Spiral galaxy in Hydra. It is accompanied by a recording live at the Electundra festival 2009. Spiral galaxy in Reticulum concentrates more on the manipulation of the imagery in an expansive and contraction manner as well as lending to comparisons with mirror balls and the tricks to mesmerize. Barker displays his skills as artist as well as showman and arch stager, perhaps even the desire to play the magician in an age of science. It is the conflation that heightens the tension and interest of the pieces. In Spiral galaxy in Hydra the constant manipulation of base cultural symbols wears a bit thin, especially combined with the epic tonality of the music, yet I suspect this is the pitch that Barker seems content to play on. It bodes well for a career in immersion cinema with important works as Barker’s head is well wrapped around the surround sound format and the not so delicate art of creating psychological mood for audiences to be highly impacted by the content.

It is quite a refreshing to watch a DVD created in the manner of Barker’ approach, using a series of audio reactive Quartz Composer animations and a sound spectrum based around space recordings and low frequency atmospheric sounds. In a field of electronic recordings accompanying imagery created by digital animation in such a surprising and effective manner which conveys a sense of content beyond mere sensory amusement.

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