Monday 11 March 2019


Described as an "adventure to a long-forgotten space station/arcade orbiting the now-vacated planet once known as Earth," the two morsels of music that comprise R23X's latest release – Terra_II – act like a soundtrack to an imaginary videogame. They set the mood, induct you seamlessly into the world at the heart of this project.

The two parts to this single represent of the adventure to the eponymous space station/arcade: Terra_II. Partly summoning the steady pace of a space shuttle journey with its swaying march of layered beats, this track for the most part feels like walking around an abandoned space station.

There are the hollow synth boops that summon this sense of forlorn loneliness, the emptiness of robots with nothing to do—something once great rediscovered. But there's a cheerfulness to the coldness in the track: the two-chord vox sounds, the cut sample in the background, the videogame noises throughout that still erupt from the forgotten arcade machines.

But the last part of the track changes tack. Following a tiny break, where you feel the silence of creeping through a dripping tunnel to a new area on the station, the airy, analogue chords (conjuring the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII) change dramatically. A now brooding, maybe more monstrous atmosphere hides in the hallways.

Part of the "mystery" at the heart of Terra_II as a whole.

'G.A.I.A. Probe' represents the (perhaps) discovery of something that might shed light on how the "thought-to-be destroyed space station has thrived and adapted in ways thought previously impossible."

It's just 54 seconds of sound, but for the duration of its series of rising, textured synth chords it shifts between beauty and decay, discovery and devastation. Synth vox suggests a hint of eerie humanity, no matter how long ago; the clinking bleeps ping a simple melody of inevitable but untimely shutdown.

Equal parts delicate and laden with the possibilities of space, shades of human emotion mingle with overtones of the sad uselessness of prodigious machines mired in neglect. In Terra_II, R23X marries with vivid colour and detail a scene of moody mystery with that strange lightness and gravity with which videogames consume and enthrall.

  • 🔔 Part of a project called EarthCade, created by R23X (Marc Junker) and Drew Wise (game developer, artist), which originally began as a game idea: "an exploration of bright and colourful animal characters who built a a self-sufficient arcade (The EarthCade) where everyone is welcome and included."

    Junker explains a little further. "We started the project with the idea of donating a portion of profits from every item sold to various charities (VOKRA, WCS, etc) that may prompt the audience (or their kids) to discuss/think about ways they can change/contribute for a better future on Earth!"

  • 🔔 Terra_II is available now on Yetee Records, an offshoot of The Yetee, purveyor of art, apparel and more, where both Junker and Wise are both art directors. You can purchase Terrace_II on Bandcamp, if you like. And you can find more EarthCade products here.
  • 🔔 We first stumbled across R23X in 2014. Check out the track that introduced us to R23X, 'Dry Summer'.

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