Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
It’s unfair that trance music, currently the most popular dance genre, has such a strong hold on the name. No disrespect to Day-Glo gypsy pants or melodramatic music that peaks and peaks like a never-ending acid trip, but the term “trance” should be available to each and every genre of electronic music, provided that the sound is hypnotic enough. Besides, when all forms of dance music are boiled down to their bare minimum, only rhythm and bass remain; repetitive percussion and low bass frequencies are what send listeners and dancers into far-off states. That said, the “Points in Time” series is nothing less than top-notch trance music — except that it’s pure drum ‘n’ bass.
The triple-CD compilation tracks the progression of atmospheric or jazzy drum ‘n’ bass, a chill-out style innovated by U.K. producer and Good Looking record label founder LTJ Bukem. The collection spans four years, from 1993 to 1997, and includes tracks from the likes of Bukem, Seba, Big Bud, Blame, PHD and Blu Mar Ten. But it’s really Bukem’s seductive music and influence that play the loudest. His style is nothing like the harder and more popular tech-step or jump-up versions of drum ‘n’ bass. Instead, he lightens the aggressive edge of the break beats with gently ticking drums, warm keyboards and Orb-inspired synth pads, juxtaposing arrhythmic ambient noises against crisp breaks. The effect brings listeners to an expansive, airy place, somewhere between jungle, jazz-fusion and outer space.
Bukem, a classically trained pianist and jazz and soul fan, delved into the late-’80s U.K. rave scene as a DJ. In 1990, he produced his first single, a hardcore break-beat track titled “Logical Progression.” Three years later, Bukem officially split from the increasingly commercialized and roughneck side of break-beat jungle with “Music,” an otherworldly eight minutes of sharp staccato rhythms and expansive ambient and string compositions. “Music,” which is included in the compilation, solidified Bukem’s reputation as a purveyor of a more sophisticated sound and inspired a contentious new description: “intelligent drum ‘n’ bass.” Other songs on the series share Bukem’s aesthetic, including Parallel World’s “Contagious,” an ethereal sputtering of beats and symphonic tones, and Seba & Lotek’s “So Long,” a euphoric dance-floor riser dotted with bittersweet melodies and clean, sparse breaks.
Hearing all 27 tracks at once is a dizzying, trancelike experience. The assertive forward motion of the break beats lures listeners into rhythmic submission, while the spacious ambient and jazz elements distract and delight. Consider “Points in Time” a chronology of an innovative sound and a journey into a peaceful mind warp.
Amanda Nowinski is a freelance writer in San Francisco.More Amanda Nowinski.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.