Intergalactic sonic journeys fuelled by analogue hardware...

Electronic music and space swim in the same pool.

There’s something that relates it so wonderfully to a futuristic vision of infinite space. Ethereal, otherworldly, futuristic. These are all terms used frequently within electronic music culture. There’s just something so ‘out of this world’ about it all. It bleeps and it bloops; our imagination malfunctions with visions of neon coloured space bikes, alien life and that weird, tube thing that’s used for transport in Futurama.

One man that needs no introduction to zero gravity is Bertalan Farkas - the first Hungarian in space. In 1978 he volunteered to become a cosmonaut and was selected as part of the fifth international program, Intercosmos, a Soviet space project, designed to aid the Soviet Union’s allies with crewed, and un-crewed, space missions.

Dropping the ‘C’ for a ‘K’, 'Interkosmos' is also the title of Hungarian producer Norwell’s latest project, releasing on Nez’s Belfast based label – Computer Controlled Records. Norwell wrote the five track EP in his small bedroom studio in a small Hungarian village called Üröm, using his favourite synthesisers - the Korg ARP Odyssey, MFB Nanozwerg, Roland Alpha Juno 2, Korg Poly 800, Roland TR-707 and Doepfer Dark Energy II.

“Most of the inspiration came from the 80's”, he says. “I like many things from those years, from wave to synth-pop, and this is what I tried to mix with acid and electro. Thanks to that it turned out to be something that I'd call a sci-fi sound.”

“This time I didn't have titles in my head before making the tracks so I was looking for names that resonate well with the sound after finishing them. I also wanted to reflect on where I'm coming from in the titles. I searched for the pictures of the spacecrafts and I fell in love with Luna 2. Very raw, strange and futuristic... Even today.”

The track titles take inspiration from the Soviet Union era of space exploration. 'Luna 2' references the second Russian space craft sent to the moon, while 'Soyuz 36' adopts its name from the space flight launched alongside Farkas and his two fellow crew members on 26th May 1980, before arriving safely at their destination, the Salyut 6 space station, seven days, twenty hours and forty six minutes later.

'Vertikal 1' begins with a tough aesthetic. It’s raw, tantalising electro, and it’s incredibly infectious. 80’s influenced synths wobble in the background, giving off a distinctively eerie, otherworldly vibe. Think Stranger Things, but laced with acid and on Mars. 'Solar Wind' is trademark Norwell. Uplifitng, yet grounded, its synth lines, machine noise and anxiety fuelled energy feels symbolic to a panic attack in space. That sounds like a bad thing. Clash can assure you it is not.

'Coronas' offers the chance for a breather as you float weightlessly through the eternal abyss. 'Luna 2' is a thing of beauty. Norwell spoke to me previously about his admiration for the craft. Its sphere shape and threatening spikes give off a mini Death Star hunch. So beautiful, but so delicate.

'Luna 2’s tough feeling is soothed by its angelic synths, symbolising the allure and intelligence of the craft itself. Interkosmos reaches its ethereal end with the ghostly, hair-raising sound of 'Soyuz 36'. It packs less of a punch than its predecessors, altogether symbolising the end of our journey. If the beginning and middle of the EP illustrates the journey into space, and the exploration on landing, 'Soyuz 36' paints a portrait of an ill-fated end.

A stumbling upon something you shouldn’t have seen. Screams not heard in the dead, eternal darkness of space, as government disclosed creatures carry you to your doom. On Interkosmos, Norwell has conceptualised Farkas’ journey into space, taking the retro sounds of the 80’s and catapulting them into outer space. We're sure if Hungary’s most famous cosmonaut listened to this he would say it sounds just like his journey felt.


Words: Andrew Moore

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