While there are still too many singles, albums, and reissues from last year that I still hope to get, today felt like the first day I looked ahead to the first couple of months of 2018 to gird myself against the glut of essential releases. Or so I thought. Scrolling through the Boomkat upcoming releases, one of my go-to tactics for learning about certain releases that might otherwise slip by unnoticed, I soon found myself most excited about was the impending reissue of the Future Sound of London's landmark Lifeforms double album from 1994, the dated cover art thankfully intact. Now, I've never listened to the whole of Lifeforms--though what I have listened to made it clear I need to own the album--but perhaps what's more remarkable is that for all the 90s dance music reissues and production tropes flooding the market right now, the chill out room has been seemingly ignored.
One thing I failed to mention in my review of the Astral Industries reissue of Heavenly Music Corporation's Lunar Phases was how its release felt largely slept on by anyone who didn't have a warm memory of melting into ground to its oceanic cradle songs. Honestly, when asking the friend who did experience Lunar Phases in the confines of a midwestern rave's chill out room about other releases and labels I was clearly sleeping on, I was soon met with a barrage of names with FSOL at the top of the list alongside the then-unknown-to-me entity of Skylab. A quick Discogs search soon revealed that they were an illbient- and trip-hop-aligned group inspired by either fourth world music theory or simply the "global pop" as pioneered by Deep Forest. Comprised of Japanese duo Love TKO and UK producers Howie B and Mat Ducasse, the quartet released the staggeringly ahead-of-its-time Skylab #1 that fused so-called world music with krautrock, hip-hop, rock, and seemingly whatever else they could successfully cram into the mix.
And although the whole album is really, truly worth your time--not to mention having been given a digital reissue back in 2015--"Ghost Dance" is a fantastic entry point for familiarizing oneself with the synthetic soundworld of Skylab. A faintly distorted chord, perhaps played on a guitar, bleats every four beats as vinyl scratches made to sound like a brass instrument played in reverse and FX flood the mix before an earthy kick and assorted hand drums set the group off on a flight of their own fancy. It's genuinely enlightening music that is a stone cold reminder of just how far-reaching the experimentalism of the 90s was, even without the help of a dial-up connection. Get lost in space for the herd is a comin' sooner or later.