Following Patrick Cowley’s gay porn soundtracks, the punchy new wave of Trisomie 21 and countless other early electronic jewels, Dark Entries bring us yet another wonderfully weird reissue. Solid Space - Space Museum is a slice of lo-fi, sci-fi minimal synth crafted in an Ilford garden shed by late-teens Dan Goldstein and Matthew Vosburgh. They melded together TV samples, catchy hooks and loner lyricism into a cassette that has garnered a hallowed reputation among collectors since its 1982 release.
It doesn’t take long to understand why tape fiends were so enamoured. The album takes in post-punk, indie and electro-pop influences to give a unique sound bursting with outsider charm. The cheap drum machine beats and mournful synths of opener Afghan Dance, followed up by the angsty, almost Bowie-esque Spectrum is Green immediately establish the duo as dejected earthlings looking for an escape beyond the cosmos. The feeling is hammered home by songs like Darkness in my Soul and Contemplation, which combine bleak, near-robotic vocals and spacey backing effects, juxtaposed against infectious guitars.
Goldstein’s lyrics deserve special mention. On Radio France and Please Don’t Fade Away he laments lost love, his vocals unshackled on the latter to give a tender guitar-led ballad. New Statue meanwhile reveals a deeply cynical side, with words composed by cutting up and rearranging sections of the Sylvia Plath poem Morning Song “as a kind of parody of how heartless it.” Several songs are credited explicitly as Doctor Who-inspired, making for an obvious (and justifiable) link with the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra, but the cosmic synths that thread through the album could just as easily have come from the studios of Raymond Scott or Bruce Lacey.
Space Museum traverses genres with rare ease and accomplishment, and tackles serious themes with an endearing immaturity. As a study of life on the fringes of a society and a planet, you’ll be hard-pushed to find anything that comes close to this.
Words: Oscar Allan