This 1982 lo-fi minimal wave curio has just been hailed by bleep.com as the potential “reissue of the decade”. But ignoring the half-gram of coke up one nostril hyperbole, it’s another bullseye release from Dark Entries, who’ve got about a near 100% hit rate for unearthing long buried analogue treasure.
Solid Space were UK duo Dan Goldstein and Maf Vosburgh, whose only release was the cassette Space Museum in 1982, on cult label In Phaze. It was recorded on 8-track in a studio called The Shed, which was an actual garden shed. And if Maf Vosburgh sounds like it’s been spewed out by a Euro electro name generator, the pair also collaborated with a guy called Jon Winegum, who could well be an obscure Viz character.
MP3s of Space Museum have been hiding out on the internet for at least a decade, and it’s been previously bootlegged on vinyl. And in 2010, someone gatecrashed the comments section on the brilliant treasure trove blog No Longer Forgotten Music to say he was a mate of Maf and they were thinking of finding the tapes and releasing it on CD and iTunes. They missed the boat on the CD, but it’s just been released on vinyl, with lyrics, notes and a postcard reprint of an original ad for the cassette.
Compared with the deadpan stark European electronic reissues on the Minimal Wave label, Space Museum is 40 minutes of wide-eyed DIY naivety, with awkward teen emotion and sci-fi themes tangled up in lo-fi post-punk electronics, high-fret guitar doodles and samples of Doctor Who and Captain Scarlet.
Some tracks sound like a rudimentary take on Wire, and Colin Newman’s vocal style is all over Spectrum Is Green. Elsewhere, Radio France sounds like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop decamped to Marseilles to record an album of sunnier library music.
The standout is New Statue, which starts on a synth effect evoking Roxy Music’s Same Old Scene, with a deadpan spoken word rant over a synth pulse straight out of the Cabaret Voltaire weapons bag. There’s even some melancholy gothic folk on A Darkness In My Soul and Please Don’t Fade Away, and paranoid space exploration on Tenth Planet, with these thematic about-turns only adding to the charm.
While it may be hysterical up-selling to suggest Space Museum could be the reissue of the decade, it’ll probably be hovering around the end of 2018 lists. This is the type of proto-British electronica the Ghost Box label has been trying to mimic for years, but there’s no matching the strange beauty of rusty originals like these.