“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”, those canonical words could be inscribed into Egyptology’s grand work’s frontispiece. Built one block after another using antediluvian rhythm boxes and synthesizers, from the sub low frequencies deep down in the foundations up to the high frequencies skimming the tails of comets, ‘The Skies’ could also be the sonic illustration of a science-fiction narrative which took place thousands and thousands years ago…
Olivier Lamm (O.Lamm) and Stéphane Laporte (Domotic, Centenaire) were already well known for their post-electronica and avant-pop explorations among the Active Suspension/Clapping Music collective in the early 2000s. For Egyptology, they decided to pool their love for the mighty white noise sound and vintage electronic instruments (Roland SH101, Roland MC 202, Korg MS10, Korg 700s Mini, Yamaha CS-15, Juno 106, Roland JX3P, Prophet 600, Philicorda…) while cultivating their differences.
Concocted over a long period of time in their own home-studios, their erudite mixtures emulsify glimmering chants and synthetic dusts of overdriven sounds on magnetic tape, like hieroglyphs were written on modern day papyrus. “There’s a kind of hidden scenario which makes the album akin to narrative, with every track matching a different kind of cinematic sequence (frenzied chase, nocturnal wandering, urban jungle, a documentary on the movements of dunes etc.), almost like in a library music record”. Musical sequel (or prequel) to a very ancient narrative of things to come, The Skies harmonizes the memorial sounds of our electronic godfathers (Joe Meek, Isao Tomita, Mort Garson, Vangelis, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) through the eyes and heart of a child (synthetic music from French TV shows of the 70s) and builds them into an parascending trip which is less retrofuturistic or retromaniacal than conscious of the past, the present and the future which co-exist in all great epics. “The space colonists in our story, they might be our Fathers. It’s the famous vertigo at the end of Planet the Apes, the novel and the original film. A thematic that is as old as science-fiction itself. As old as mathematics and Zeno’s paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles”.
“Retrofitted” like everyone’s benchmark that has become Blade Runner, ‘The Skies’ distorts through the same modernist filter the actual distant past (the Old Egyptian Kingdom) as well as the one that is the most fantasized about (the ancient astronauts, The Illuminati); Stéphane and Olivier are not so much interested in Ancient Egypt itself, but in “the Ancient Egypt by means of the early 20th century, this period when all our half-forgotten futuristic dreams, those semi-utopian visions which our minds fed upon when we were children, come from”. Less camp than Jean-Michel Jarre’s, less akin to gravestones than Daft Punk’s, Egyptology’s pyramids come from “an inner struggle between our fascination for the sounds of the past, their mystery, eeriness and power of evocation, and the belief that the recreation of such sounds in 2012 is completely useless”.
Like a romantic ode to sepia futurism and to those piles of stardust desperately waiting to shine their little light again, The Skies is a musicians’ dream, refining a sense of cosmic disorientation through the love of the synthetic sounds themselves. This unconditional love for the eerie sounds of the old synthesizers from the 60s, 70s and 80s is the third term in the formula, the thing that makes it complete. 1+1=3. Three equidistant points are enough: together they’re a triangle, they’re a pyramid.