FOR THE DREAMERS
Bristol dream-weaver A Sagittariun loves the Berghain sounds as much as “cosmic noise and hard-as-nails techno”, but his own work is decidedly intergalactic, not least on latest album ‘Return To Telepathic Heights’ on the Running Back Incantations label. He says it is the first time he’s written music with such a strong concept from so early on in the process, “which in part made it more challenging”, but on the flipside, it helped him focus on “what I didn’t want to produce”.
So why dreamy, and not dirty? Zoned out, and not locked in?
“The music has to come from my own personality and my own thought forms,” he explains. “The reason why you won’t see A Sagittariun music in all the charts or on the big radio shows is that I am not out to make carbon copies of everything else that’s hot right now. I am not doing this to follow trends or position myself somewhere among the majority sound. In fact, I make a subconscious move to go the other way.”
He says that these days, he is more interested in making a space western soundtrack, putting his style of techno into the 100bpm realm and leaning on “the cinematic influences of Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg, and the musical influences of Ennio Morricone, Adrian Sherwood and Derrick May. That’s just pretty out- there I think, and exactly the kind of project I wanted to indulge myself in.”
Dance music continues to permeate everyday life, from adverts to the charts, supermarkets to art installations, and that newfound freedom is what A Sagittariun — and all these space techno artists — are capitalising on.
“The albums I have produced are always for a personal listening experience,” A Sagittariun says. “It’s not club music at all really, the dancefloor nowadays is almost always a predatory area filled with people who don’t give a shit about the music and are only there to look good or take photos to impress their mates. This album is for the loners, the dreamers, the night trippers, the deviants, the others, the fantasists, those with open minds and open hearts.
For someone lying horizontal with a pair of headphones, lights down low, incense burning, perhaps a relaxing smoke. Those in transit too, late-night car journeys, trains, underground, in flight. I always like to listen to albums while in motion.”
And this one certainly takes you somewhere across its 10 tracks. Like all previous A Sagittariun music, it is broad in scope. There are high-speed cosmic trips, like the slippery and Millsian ‘Watch The Skies’, next to less linear cuts like the downbeat ‘Zeus I, Prepare For Launch’ with its melancholic chords and heavy, loose drums. Plenty of alien life-forms characterise the deep and cavernous ‘Version Excursion’, while throwback chill-out cuts like ‘Dream Stealers’ bring to mind a ’90s Castlemorton comedown.
While the album was written as a way of embracing pure fantasy and imaginary worlds, the aim was also to convey feelings of hope.
“Techno has always spoken to me without ever having to say anything,” explains A Sagittariun. “Those early Rhythim Is Rhythim tracks are so filled with meaning and hope, curiosity and optimism: plenty of techno has inspired me in this way.”
In order to get into a suitable mind-set to make this adventurous music and conjure previously unimaginable worlds, A Sagittariun had a vision of Clint Eastwood in cowboy film A Fistful Of Dollars. “I started going into character, like a method actor would,” he says. “I did literally wear a 10-gallon hat during the production process.”
He fully immersed himself in the cinematic aspect of the concept, consuming Western movies and sci-fi films like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind while reading the works of authors such as Ray Bradbury. Of course, this comes years after he experienced the first wave of UK rave and techno, which was often about escapism and deep space voyages, from Luke Slater to Orbital, Global Communication to Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works’.
“I’d say that I was playing out a certain attitude and frame of mind when producing the album. By the very nature of all A Sagittariun music, that sci-fi element is always there from the off, so if I’m not making swimming motions with my arms, as if I’m swimming through water, space or sound, then I’m not on track. As bizarre as it may sound, this is the process that keeps me producing as A Sagittariun.”
A recurrent theme in sci-fi techno is that it is written as a soundtrack to a movie; either an imaginary one, or one that flows out of the artist after they have submerged themselves in the work of fellow futurists.
“In a weird way, it was as if we weren’t in control,” says Troxler of the writing process. “We became vessels in a very literal sense. Music flowed out of us and it gives us the possibility to dream of our future, because reality is a construct. We’re making it up constantly, and it’s different for everyone.”
So long as we have techno dreamers, our reality can be whatever we want it to be.