hidden treasure

Patrick O’Hearn – Indigo (1991)

new age / progressive electronic / ambient

More like this – Vangelis, Azuma, Patrick O’Hearn’s “Rainmaker” + “Between Two Worlds”

An odd recurrence in the 80s-90s that never fails to pique my curiosity is when people you could deem ‘new age artists’ made songs that were unusually dark-sided. Yet at the same time, the synths and production will sound very similar. Is it besides the whole point of the genre, then (sounding peaceful, inducing relaxation) or not? Whatever the intentions may be, albums like this are after my own heart.

You could say Vangelis pioneered this as many of his songs combined the crystal-clear textures of the era with a more cinematic/ambiguous air. That being said, his work is only the surface of this sensation. Patrick O’Hearn of Missing Persons is one of those special few who happened to explore very close territory, with this fan-favorite album Indigo in particular. To be honest, though, I’m tempted to argue this is more consistent than many of Vangelis’ own albums.

The cover’s moody teal-blue was the first hint. Indigo is the most shadowy, murky new age album I’ve come across, one that molds the normally ‘kitschy’ sound of synth-rhodes into haunting dirges (as on ”Coba” and the mournful closer ”Espana”). Songs like “Desire” and “Sacred Heart” alternate between oceanic drifting and thrilling film-score peaks while others (”Upon the Wings of Night”) choose to float by in the murk.

Rhythms are smooth and flowing, forming careful transitions with his tense keyboard patterns (”Sacrifice”). It’s like a cross between Spencer Nilsen’s Ecco The Dolphin music and those sinister incidental cues you hear in Miami Vice. He’s found a fascinating middle-ground here, and it’s something that doesn’t pop up near enough in his other work.

A lot of Indigo’s appeal lies in the insistence to keep lurking around this haunted fantasy world it’s concocted for itself, but a few areas like “Devil’s Lake” can come off a little self-serious for my liking. Other parts can get long-winded or repetitive – I guess this is a given with something this close to ambient music. Still, I think anyone curious about 80s-90s new age and/or who loves Vangelis should be sure to listen to this. It embodies so many of the things I love about the digital synth era, and the level of hypnotic beauty it achieves remains highly convincing.

♥︎ – “Sacrifice”, “Coba”, “Sacred Heart”, “Desire”

Visual

Stills from Fairy Florence

 

Masami Hata’s Fairy Florence AKA A Journey Into Fairyland (1985) is a Fantasia-inspired film combining classical music with alluring hand-painted scenery. It was animated by Sanrio Films with entirely traditional methods – an ambitious task that took four years to complete.

Mix

My Other Voice

cropped shusei nagaoka
Image credit: Shusei Nagaoka, 1982.

Listen here

This mix explores vocals that blur the lines between human and machine through their use of vocoder, phasing and similar techniques.

Key themes: robots, androids/cyborgs, human-machine, retro-futurism, sci-fi, neon, technology, human/machine, 1980s, neon, unfeeling v.s. feeling

Track listing:

  1. GIORGIO MORODER – faster than the speed of love
  2. MIRAGE – lady operator
  3. PARALLELS – dry blood
  4. NUN – burn
  5. MARSHEAUX – what a lovely surprise
  6. STEVE HAUSCHILDT – constant reminders
  7. SPARKS – my other voice
  8. RENI JUSIS – w zwolnionym tempie
  9. KLAUS NOMI – i.c.u.r.o.k.
  10. D A V I C I I – skruszone serce 
  11. oOoOO ft. LAURA CLOCK – without your love
  12. KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH – to follow and lead
  13. MARGARET BERGER – robot song
  14. SANTIGOLD – walking in a circle
  15. GAZELLE TWIN – i am shell i am bone
  16. LOREEN – ’71 charger (strings version)
  17. JANELLE MONAE – cybertronic purgatory
  18. EYELINER – homo electronicus
  19. CHIKISS – dusha

Continue reading “My Other Voice”