Album Review: Oumuamua Parts 1 and 2 by El Hombre Al Agua

Writing about music does not just result in my becoming more knowledgeable about music, it also acts as something of a window into the minds of musicians and their own interests. Often these are political, they are frequently existential, and occasionally (and this is my own editing process at work here) they are marvellously trivial. On this occasion there are factual and philosophical ideas at play which interact with the music in a manner that is both thought provoking and consequential.

Oumuamua was the first interstellar object to have been detected in our Solar System. Its trajectory and speed was such that it was able to escape the pull of the sun and head off once again into the galaxy. This is something that had fascinated Canadian musician Dave Read (Moths and Locusts/ Annunaki) who used it as a muse on which to ponder our place in existence by taking us on a journey towards the sun and then out again in to the infinite depths of the universe to produce this carefully put together album (Read plays all the instruments here).

This then is no so much a space rock album as an album about a piece of space rock; and while the some of the ideas are similar, this is a far more minimalistic and spare album than the rather more dense music about careering through space than we are used to.

Here the background, the foundation of our sonic journey, is that of drones. These are frequently destabilising and disorientating. Indeed there is a real sense of otherness to this music… Read reflecting on the both the minuscule nature of Oumuamua itself, and of our own planet as it flashes past us at great speed before potentially flying off into eternity.

It is this confrontation with the enormity of where we find ourselves, with the existential reality of being but a small speck on a small speck within a tiny solar system within a universe that stretches on for millions of light years, that really marks this work out as each track builds a sense of dislocation, yet within an almost monotonous drone which acts as the pulse of the work.

However, while the concepts being set out here are difficult to fathom, the work itself is not inaccessible with the glacial pace that is a hallmark of Read’s work as El Hombre Al Agua once again on display. As you would imagine when flying through space, change is slow and often hardly perceptible… and so it is here as we take our cue from this understated yet profound soundtrack.

“Dedicated to Read’s late sister Jodi, who passed away in 2018, Oumuamua Parts 1 & 2 will be released on vinyl, CD, and as a download on his NoiseAgonyMayhem label in March 2019.” Orders can be placed here.

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