Dutch artist re-emerges as in­stru­men­tal cos­mic voy­ager.

Prog - - The Musical Box - Rh

Jacco Gard­ner is clearly mind­ful of the grass grow­ing un­der his feet. Af­ter two al­bums of mel­liflu­ous psych pop, for­ays into dance mu­sic and in­volve­ment in the tour­ing ensem­ble of Zam­bian psych rock­ers Witch, Gard­ner has now left the ground com­pletely with Som­nium. It’s an al­bum that sees him dis­pense with vo­cals, pre­fer­ring in­stead to cre­ate a se­ries of mood­scapes that co-opt el­e­ments of dub, am­bi­ent and elec­tronic space rock. The in­spi­ra­tion, he says, is Jo­hannes Ke­pler’s 17th cen­tury novel of the same name, a lu­nar odyssey that helped pop­u­larise the idea of sci­ence fic­tion. High con­cepts are well and good, but Gard­ner proves to be a nat­u­ral at this sort of thing, im­print­ing the mu­sic with the same cu­ri­ous sense of won­der as fore­bears like Tan­ger­ine Dream and Mike Old­field. The Old­field con­nec­tion is deep­ened by the in­clu­sion of mas­ter­ing en­gi­neer Si­mon Hey­worth, who co-pro­duced the orig­i­nal Tubu­lar Bells. The chill­out vibes of Eclipse em­body Som­nium’s lan­guid aes­thetic, though much of its ap­peal lies in the tiny de­tails. Rain, for in­stance, takes up where Le­mon Jelly left off, glid­ing into an ex­per­i­men­tal realm be­tween the prog and the pas­toral.

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