Extraterrestrial Research is best listened to in a dark room late at night, when your mind is free to wander alongside Cirkle’s mesmerizing techno and ominous ambience. This international collaboration between Greek artist Cirkle and Canadian record label Deep Sea Mining Syndicate will put you into a state of hypnosis that will only dissipate once the album is over. Everything flows so smoothly from one beat to the next that, at times, it’s hard to tell when one track ends and another begins. With five individual pieces, Extraterrestrial Research is a tight and intimate listen, surging from one thumping loop to another with a magnetic sense of effortlessness.
The first track is titled “Landing,” and rightfully so. It gleefully indulges in its own ambience, taking us on a journey bent on doing the album title justice. The echoey production feels almost alien, ambitiously floating us into space in preparation for the techno that is to come. This somber opener is indeed a landing, but the location is left up to the listener’s imagination.
If “Landing” introduces us to an alien landscape, then “Kachira’s Cave” acts as an exploration. Stripping away most of the ambience in favour of a hypnotically repetitive techno beat, this track contains enough minimalistic energy to continuously drive forward. It never stalls, rising in an evolving tapestry of sound that only ceases when the beats fade away to make room for the next piece, “Underwater Tunnel.”
Both over six minutes long, “Underwater Tunnel” and “Extra Terrestrial Research” build upon the energy of “Kachira’s Cave” and provide Cirkle’s grandest displays of techno prowess. These tracks are the research that Cirkle alludes to in the album title. With a multi-layered mix of striking beats and a consistent background ambience that rises and falls with every passing moment, Cirkle seems to be probing for answers in this album’s otherworldly murkiness. And whatever Cirkle’s looking for, it is clearly hidden.
The album feels short, and yet there is not a wasted moment. The final track is simply titled “Epilogue,” and acts as a fittingly atmospheric conclusion to an album concerned with the mysteries of strange, far off places. Cirkle manages to keep every piece from overstaying its welcome by building layer upon layer of sonic wonder into a dark, spacey tapestry of laid-back techno and brooding ambience.