|country of origin:
Ambient, spacemusic, environmental
And The Stars Go With You (1987, New World)
Planetary Chronicles (1992, New World)
Planetary Chronicles vol. 2 (1994, New World)
Century Seasons (2000, New World)
The Stargazer's Journey (2003, New World)
Thousand Star (2009, New World)
Reviewed by Mike G
Electronic spacemusic has a long and rich history going back to the revolutionary, effects-laden guitar and organ workouts of late 1960's Pink Floyd. These sounds were first being created - not co-incidentally I believe - at exactly the same time in history that humankind first walked on another world. It wasn't just music, it was the soundtrack to a completely new chapter in the human story.
But how often does spacemusic give you the sensation of really, truly moving and floating in space, while at the same time touching you emotionally? Jonn Serrie's music does. He is both an aircraft pilot and a long-established composer of music for planetariums, which is a perfect resume for making music like this. Of course most of us will never know what the experience of space travel is really like. Realists maintain that space is dark and hostile and lonely and there would be nothing very romantic about being cooped up alone in a tiny spaceship half way across the galaxy a thousand light years from home. But like all good spacemusic, Serrie's instrumentals are more about possibilities, a kind of aural science fiction. It's left to your imagination to explore what those possibilities might be.
Serrie may be less interested in fully developed melodies than peers like Alpha Wave Movement but it proves to be no shortcoming. His best music is clean, subtle, minimal and airy. It also evokes that sense of awe and wonder that spacemusic aficionados know well. The six albums listed above are the finest examples of Serrie's output in the "pure" spacemusic style, as distinct from his (very) lightweight excursions into new age and other areas.
His debut album And Stars Go With You is a classic of its kind. It's all the more poignant given it was composed in the wake of the space shuttle disaster of 1986, a time when Serrie himself was working at NASA. The excellent Planetary Chronicles volume 1 and volume 2 both collect pieces specifically commissioned for planetarium shows.
Century Seasons is a very good 2-CD compilation which covers his recording career up to 2000. It contains mostly previously released material that's been extensively mixed and blended into two uninterrupted journeys. For the most part it's mercifully free of Christmas carols, Amreican Indian lite and new age earwash; the kind of material that crept into his output after the early 90's. Such albums account for about half of Serrie's catalogue, so beware.
The Stargazer's Journey and Thousand Star are Serrie's best albums from his fairly prolific 2000's period, evidence again that spacemusic is where his star shines brightest. Both of these releases re-state his strengths as a composer of deep, mysterious, harmonious ambience for armchair travel.