This is the surface of Europa. Smooth, reflective, veined – a moon cloaked in cold, hard ice. And beneath: ocean, perhaps even layers of ocean – and therefore at least one undiscovered species of giant space squid.
Europa has intrigued us for quite some time. We’ve known about the existence of a Jovian satellite system since the early seventeenth century, thanks – in part if not entirely – to that grand old heretic Galileo (desperate to prove his delusional theory that the Earth is in orbit around the Sun, rather than Bono’s ego). Thus the first known example of a complex multiple moon set-up, with all the subsequent permutations of orbital resonance and gravitational hoopla; a mini solar system of Jupiter’s own orchestrated synergy.
It’s these orbital calibrations that cause Europa to flicker across imagination; everything seems to point some variation of the H2O model beneath that icecap – even if it is in the form of yet more frozen water – whilst both its marble-smooth texture and veined complexion heavily imply recent (if not ongoing) geological activity – activity triggered not by solar radiation, which is relatively weak this far out, but via the push and pull of tidal force; gravity conducting a moon’s graceful rotation about its parent’s midriff.
It’s these indications of internal heat and chemical composition that trigger the space squid joke; now that we know life on earth isn’t exclusively reliant upon photosynthesis-based food chains (colonies of chemosynthetic critters have been discovered in deep oceanic trenches – way beyond the reach of sunlight – thus proving that life can be supported by the type of chemical reaction independent of solar fusion), Europa’s make-up suggest some plausible form of extraterrestrial, microbiologic existence. Not necessarily likely or even squid-sized – there’s a greater probability of discovering life in Florida first – but perfectly possible, all the same.
I spend too long these days scouring the more obscure corners of the internet for shoegaze noise. In fact not even shoegaze (the genre politik turns me cold, don’t forget) – it’s more about sound that inspires, floats within the gaps, takes you somewhere delightful when the need for bliss knocks at the door. Lead me by the senses to where the stereo crackles with delight – with whatever terminology you elect to categorize by.
Below the words: three recent tracks that have helped to satisfy that urge / itch / state of mind. All three also happen to be bands from Canada – as if this blog needs any more naff and awkward themes from which to hang; isn’t a certain strand of music influence wedded to a sad boy space affectation enough to be going on with, without some nation-themed thing added to the mix? Hmm…
Silver Dapple are based in Montréal; a garage-infused low-fi sound that still manages to exude an intriguing lightness of touch. Vancouver’s Guitaro did the whole rock ‘n’ roll thing, broke up, then returned like surly adolescents; not with drug habits and a silly haircut, but rather offering an enchanting album that bridges that gap between Pacific Coast stoner-rock and sci-fi dreampop attractions. Finally Bird World, from the opposite end of the country (Halifax NS); filtering the North American pop aesthetic through a sheen of off-kilter late-eighties reverb. All three are wonderful; listen, buy, enthuse, befriend a giant space squid – but perhaps not all at once.
Silver Dapple / Slip Stich
Guitaro / Blastock
Bird World / Swamp