Burning Star Core, Challenger

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C Spencer Yeh, better know to some as Burning Star Core, released easily my favorite record of 2008 with Challenger.

The album sounds pretty much exactly how the cover art looks. It's a fucking trip across the cosmos. There's an entire aura surrounding it that is colored like the smokey goo pluming from some shattered, planetoid-orb. This album could be the all-time greatest score to an amazing science fiction movie. It's just out there and wonderful.

This is pretty distant from the more avant-garde string shattering, processed and affected violin scraping you may have heard from BxC. This entire piece is beautiful, though some tracks are a little more radical than others, in their approach to ambiance and tone. “Challenger” is basically rather Eno-esque, while “Mezzo Forte” is an odd, vibrating throat sample looping and bending and warping forever. “Hopelessly Devoted” is another favorite of mine, it's like floating freely through a darkened anti-gravity hallway, never truly knowing what is lurking right behind you. The album is fantastic from start to finish, like a voyage across some solar system, guided by treated pianos, organs, violins, voices, and just about everything else you can conjure up.

The album came out on Hospital Productions, but varies quite a bit from Hospital staples such as Prurient, Yellow Tears, or Vegas Martyrs. The noise is there, but it's distilled throughout so many layers that Challenger is much more of a tranquil experience than you might expect from the normal output of the label; however if you want to try some other, less disturbing Hospital releases, you should check out the Cold Cave & Prurient collaboration, Stars Explode, or Imperial Horizon by Kevin Drumm.

Challenger is a beautiful record that deserves your utmost attention. Tune in and zone out.