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“Space Trips For The Masses” – atmospheric shoegaze rockers MODERN STARS break down new album track by track

Swampy and dark like a week’s worth of rain, the newest electronica infused, slowly crawling, psychedelic shoegaze rock offering from MODERN STARS has landed officially via Little Cloud Records this past Friday, Noveber 11th, and to celebrate, we have teamed up with the band to give you their interesting track by track commmentary below.

‘Space Trips For The Masses’ marks the band’s third LP of Modern Stars and can be grabbed online via Bandcamp and Little Cloud Records.

A pure injection of Shoegaze from outer space, tinged with ceremonial-like Kosmische, the music of Modern Stars is loaded with stringed and electronic sounds, laid down through a multilayering approach that has more in common with Indian traditional music and Techno, than with rock’n’roll. It vaguely reminds me of Teenage Filmstars’ shoegaze approach to classic Psychedelia, as well as the extraterrestrial charm of Silver Apples and the deep drones of Spacemen 3.

The result is, however, a lot kinder to the ear, with enchanted melodies that combine Andrea Merolle’s liturgical crooning with the chants of Lyric soprano singler Barbara Margani. Songs like ‘Ninna Nanna’, even have something of Dead Can Dance.

“It’s refreshing to hear an album filled with imagination and an honest intent which opens up a vista of sounds, feelings and thoughts. (…) Space Trips For The Masses deserves to do well and will appeal to those who enjoy being transported away from their humdrum existence to another void populated with like-minded souls.” – The Sleeping Shaman

‘Space Trip For The Masses’ is inspired by the recent hype around space tourism projects. It deals with the theme of inner search for happiness through the story of an amateur astronaut, who sets off towards the sun without returning home. The songs revolve around spiralling drones, evolving from electronic patterns, humming of sitars, noises from the immediate surroundings like the buzzing of a fridge, and guitar layers with unusual tunings. It is an inverse and deconstructional composition process, where drones become the canvas as the band discover the harmonies from within noises, until the songs take on a life of their own.

Speaking about the structure of the recording, the band admits that the main themes of side A songs have been written between 2017-2018 and it took a lot of time to properly arrange them, while side B songs have been written in a few days.  “Then our daughter (Alice) was born and bring the inspiration to make the other ones finally sound like they should have sounded. Circular, isn’t it?” – they admit.

Side A

Starlight

A dissonant dirge that accompanies the beginning of the journey that a modern Icarus decides to undertake to get to know himself

We wanted it to sound like the beginning of a movie so it starts with samples of Johann Sebastian Bach Orchestral Suite no. 3’s Air (for Italian readers, vulgarly, the Quark Theme) and Nasa communication for the leaving. The first part has a voice with some fx that recalls the astronaut’s one and when the song shifts to major chords Barbara and instruments gradually come in.

The main solo track is made on a mandolin and it is sonically inspired by Duran Duran Ordinary World.

This because we thought that a mandolin is easier to play on an spaceship since it is small and at the time of recording it I went to a supermarket and remembered vividly in my mind when I was like 8 years old with my mother in the same supermarket and the radio was playing that song.

You may be the most underground and obscure artist of this world and listen to natural or artificial noises to find inspiration, as we many times do, but things you heard while you grow up significantly have a huge impact anyway.

Monkey Blues

Portrays a moment in which the protagonist no longer understands whether what surrounds him is reality or the fruit of his mind.

This is inspired by the movie 12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995) that Barbara and I saw together some years ago. Even if I do not see many movies, it is one of my favorite ones and so the idea was to compose a song that might have been included in the soundtrack for its atmosphere. Someone who is going crazy since it is alienated from the rest of the world and refers to himself like Jeffrey Goins. What a mentor of madness.

In the synth mayhem you may hear a theremin solo made with a clone of the one that Jimmy Page played in Whole Lotta Love. The cheaper you may find, I paid it 70 dollars 15 years ago and I never properly learned. It has no quantization and only one knob, no display, quite impossible to play. So it was perfect to make something dissonant and casual.

No Fuss

He proceeds towards the achievement of his goal. However, something is going wrong.

Surely the most obsessive song of the album in pure krautrock style. Here the tuning of the main riff guitar is a Sonic Youth-like DGDDDD and you may hear it both fuzzy and clean, the latter as one of the droning sounds filtered through a ‘60 Vox repeater clone pedal.

I always use multiple amplifiers with different fx and in this case we decided to keep both tracks, it is hard to believe that the played instrument is exactly the same.

I’m happy the slide wha solo that I wanted to scream in a way that may resemble the sound of Wata (Boris, Japan, for me one of the best band ever).

My Messiah Left Me Behind

The turning point of the album. When one feels lost, then something new begins. That’s life.

This track was recorded when we were finishing Psychindustrial and in the meanwhile working on the new album. We already did a version in 2017 I guess that you may find somewhere on SoundCloud. It was one of the first songs that Barbara and I made together in our home studio on a very low budget Scarlett interface, but the final version is so different for its final part. We recorded Alice’s heartbeat for the intro and crying for the outro (even if she’s credited only for the latter, my mistake). There is a Ludwig Van Beethoven Symphony no. 9 sample at the end to keep it epic and the final arpeggio is made by an out of sync old Roland Jupiter 4 with noise and envelope controlled filter. That later I sold for 2k thinking I made a great deal and now while I was writing this I just noticed it actually worths four times that price…

Side B side

Everyday

A lullaby of hope that turns into a pressing mantra.

This is essentially the song I wrote for Alice by singing on a drone I accidentally made with a Moog set on LFO pitch control and wave form. The guitar melody on the first part basically does the same that synth did. It is a song of joy. Strange for us. Hahahaah. When we rehearsed with the full band to go live it couldn’t sing it because I started to cry everytime. It begins in a Velvet Underground mood and then ends in a Stone Roses one, especially on the drum side. Andrea did a great job.

Drowning

The traveller faces the fate that sees him sink without returning home.

I was listening to Solomon Burke Dontcha feel I’m crying and the main idea came from slowing it down and playing with a drop tuning and a lot of fx. Then I developed the rest. If I didn’t tell that, no one would find comparison between the songs. A process similar to the deconstruction of Giorgio Moroder’s I feel love that we did on Indian Donna Summer, from our previous album Psychindustrial. But with more strings on synths and no sitar. And here we come back to our usual dark mood.

Ninna Nanna

A psychedelic lullaby composed on the traditional children’s song (worldwide famous with different titles) Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Our first and at present only song in Italian. We thought that it was the best outro to perform and that if even if no one would listen to it, it could useful, as it had been, to make Alice sleep by just putting play on the phone.

Here we put samples from Mozart Eine kleine Nachtmusik K. 525 and I really dig the 808’s rimshot sound, similar to Beat Happening Jamboree.

It was intended to be double singed but we realized that if the main character was dead he could not sing anymore.

I hope to have written somewhere the alternate guitar tuning since I cannot remember it…

“Space Trips For The Masses” – atmospheric shoegaze rockers MODERN STARS break down new album track by track
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