Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
Larry Heard may be better known as Mr. Fingers, one of the 1980's pioneers of Chicago house. By the 90's, he'd began branching out sounds on records released under his real name. This one is extremely chilled out, with Heard focusing on very cosmic sounds and relegating the beat to a supporting position. The album is somewhat like what Tangerine Dream was doing on their better 80's albums, although infused with a huge dose of house and acid jazz sensibilities.
Let me try and put this one right out on the table. Larry Heard's sonic constructions and the flow of his music is amazing. On this album he really managed to create what feels like aural journeys through stardust. On the other hand, Mr. Heard does not have the best taste in hardware. I imagine that we're hearing the top of the line synth technology of 1996, but that's not really the most interesting collection of synths in my opinion. Also, some of the lead keyboard parts are sometimes a little cheesy, but usually in that non-offensive lounge sort of way. For the worst offender, go straight to "Flight of the Comet."
Or we could focus on the fact that the first 23 minutes of the album are extremely good. "Faint Object Detection" starts off with crystal clear sequences, "The Dance Of Planet X" takes us into orbit, and finally we face the unknown with the bubbling sounds and percussive lattices of "Micro Gravity." It's all very 'cool' music. Maybe the Alien of the album's title is cruising along the interstellar spaceways in his convertible rocket with the top down.
"Galactic Travels Suite" is a fine ambient piece, presenting us with shimmering balls of elctric sound before a popping bass line finally grounds us. "Two Journeys" offers lots of interesting noises, with the first half taking place in an ambient jungle, while the second half skitters down an asphalt lane late at night.
The album is completely instrumental until the closing "The Beauty of Celeste." There's a bit of a space age Gil Scott Heron ranting on the top that doesn't quite break up the flow of the album, but I still could have done without. This is still a great late night album for those of you who hope to travel with the jazzy sounds of Larry Heard's digital alien.