Neel: Phobos (Spectrum Spools)
I’d previously heard some of Giuseppe Tillieci’s collaborations with Donato Dozzy as Voices from the Lake, so when I put on Phobos, his latest solo offering as Neel, I anticipated the onset of a techno framework that never actually happens. So I’ll implore anyone interested in giving Phobos a whirl to do so on a good pair of headphones. This is heady, trippy listening — lots of tiny details, rolling and sprinkling delay, complex stereo synths, and a completely weightless sensibility. Freed of dancefloor expectations, I find Neel’s music here to really shine compared to other productions I’d heard previously.
Phobos is Neel’s narrative about the Martian moon of the same name, which each century draws closer to its red parent by one earthly meter, setting twice across Mars’s sky every day. And there is something both interplanetary and alien about these meticulous sonic excursions, with a keenly deep sense of space and atmosphere. Though it’s experienced best as a whole from start to finish, my favorite track is “Traveling on Kepler Dorsum,” with its contrasting space chatter, tiny bits of chilly debris echoing across time, and its lulling, continuous hum, like a warm field of radiant, deep light.
These contrasts of light and dark, bright and deep, earthly and alien, all make Phobos an engrossing journey. In its final moments, the fragile beauty that’s threatened to reveal itself this whole time finally blooms, with an elegant, gorgeous ending to a journey through deep space.