Planetary Assault Systems Arc Angel - XLR8R

Planetary Assault Systems Arc Angel

Luke Slater presents over 90 minutes of his most elegant techno to date.
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Widely regarded as a champion of pure and proper techno, Luke Slater has had his sights set on the future for 23 years now. In that time he has managed to bring it ever closer to us, through painstaking sound design and intergalactic ideologies that are unmistakably cinematic and cerebral. His latest album as Planetary Assault Systems—his longest running alias—is a third on Ostgut Ton, and is his most coherent vision yet.

Part of that is down to the fact that Slater set himself some limitations: the first was to focus more on melody, the second was that, “all gear [used to make the album] had to fit onto a small table.” The process has resulted in a full-length that, far from homogenized, feels like the perfect realization of a celestial techno aesthetic. Every bar is painstakingly arranged, expertly lit and masterfully colored like some sort of psychedelic musical bedfellow to a visually vivid Wes Anderson movie.

Style never outweighs substance though, because as well as Slater’s trademark knack for alien sounds and strong sci-fi imagery, there is a range of moods to go with the ever-supple grooves. He variously piles up kicks and frazzled rays into pressurized and paranoid pieces—these moments are hardly tracks, as rather than building in the usual predictable bars, they evolve in their own complex but effortless ways, more akin to a classical composition. At other points, he weaves together polyrhythmic patterns and manic bells into hypnotic aural fireworks, or holds back and makes spooky and eerie passages where far-off sounds take your attention and suck you right down the rabbit hole.

Arc Angel is serious mind music—stuff that glows and shimmers like bioluminescent bacteria. It is weightless and borderless, and makes for an experience as authentic and emotive as Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (if not far more intense). In a weird juxtaposition of old and new, though, this most interplanetary album starts with the nostalgic sound of a cassette being loaded into a tape deck. After that rare concession to the past, Slater wastes no further time looking back and goes on to redefine a very Millsian brand of techno. Elaborate, though never for the sake of it, the elegance and fluidity of it all is what makes it so seductive. 96 minutes is a long time to listen to techno away from the club, but in the hands of someone as accomplished in the form as this, it leaves you in nothing but wonderment.

Arc Angel will be released September 30. Pre-order it at the Ostgut Ton store. Stream snippets below.

Tracklisting [Digital]:

01. Cassette
02. Angel Of The East
03. Tri Fn Trp
04. Sonar Falls
05. Interlude 1
06. Message From The Drone Sector
07. Merry Go Round
08. Interlude 2
09. Behind The Eyes
10. Bawoo Bawoo
11. Interlude 3
12. Revolution One
13. Interlude 4
14. Blue Monk
15. Groucho
16. Interlude 5
17. The Rider
18. Max
19. Interlude 6
20. The Last Scene
21. Arc Angel (continuous mix)