eXU-9 “Space Cadet”

Until now I was only familiar with Norman W. Long’s incredible field-recording-based solo work, so learning about his drone project, eXU-9, was exciting. On Space Cadet, Long takes these dense explorations to find meditative spaces where we can ruminate on “freedom, resilience, expansion, openness, and universal consciousness.” There are mountains of pain and trauma underlying these recordings, but they are an act of defiance; of processing and letting go. Long is pushing toward the other side, finding ways to become one with the universe, but others didn’t make it and these aural chasms are still open for them. Long’s dedication of Space Cadet speaks volumes: “For those who didn’t survive.” 

Expansive soundscapes emerge from darkness, bringing painful moments to the surface. Long doesn’t eulogize this trauma, though, and instead stretches it to the breaking point on pieces like the ghostly “jupiter” and noise-soaked “lo end indust.” There, he searches for the deepest roots to tear out and twist them into a blanket of acceptance. Churning synths move through molasses as “lo end indust” drills deep into the soil. Aqueous blips pepper solitary sequences all over “elijah,” creating a fertile bed for deep meditation and quiet tranquility. 

Long takes surprising sonics and bends them into a universe where we are unafraid to be ourselves, imbuing these tracks with a gentle cosmic vision. In the stars, we all float and return to the origin. Space Cadet is a powerful statement from an artist whose work continues to move and amaze me. 

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