Secret Station Records have received plenty of love lately, by you guys and of course me. The label continues to release quality electronica, with several available for free download, and prompting an SS tribute mix by Mach V. So, what better way to celebrate the next isolatedmix than the musical genius behind the lot – label founder Eric Watson aka Lunar Testing Lab.
If you’ve taken advantage of Secret Station’s free downloads, you would have set ear upon the otherworldly music that is Lunar Testing Lab. Featured as the labels first free download, SS01 ‘Seashore Blvd’, laid down the standard for label artists which has now become for me, one of the most impressive netlabel rosters out there. SSO1 was a mixture of classic chill and dowtempo, at times similar to Lemon Jelly (Summer Seas) and closely resembling Boards of Canada quality (Shoreline at Dawn). Ss01 was recently succeeded by SS20 –Unauthorized Frequencies, and if Seashore Blvd reflected a blissed out American summer, Unauthorized Frequencies was crafted for the winter; expanding upon scratchy vocals, space-themed samples and deep thought provoking melodies.
For isolatedmix 08, Eric has dug deep into his beloved record collection, carefully selecting tracks from vinyl only – a unique insight into the influences, sounds and styles which have crafted Lunar Testing Lab’s productions. Space samples, Jazz, IDM, ambient, ‘late 60’s mind expanding experimental’ and tracks that I’m not even sure where to start classifying.
Eric’s words: “I hope people can find something in there that they like”.
My words: When a compiler stays true to their influences and seeks to exceed expectations, the result is always more than a ‘like’…
Tracklisting with commentary by Lunar Testing Lab:
1- Copper Plated Integrated Circuit – Integrated Circuit
“I heard some samples from this record online, and after not being able to find it for years, I finally resorted to ebay. Lots of great tracks and sounds.”
2- Mort Garson – Hair
“Mort Garson is one of my favorite artists. Not only do I love his music, I also love how he never really did an album as “Mort Garson”- they are all concept albums with different names (like Ataraxia, Plantasia, Black Mass/Lucifer, and the Wozard of Id). I first came across his name when I found an LP called ‘Music For Sensuous Lovers by Z”, and I then figured out that Z was Mort Garson. I’ve been buying his records ever since.”
3- Kraftwerk – It’s More Fun To Compute
“My favorite track from my favorite Kraftwerk LP.”
4- Neal Norman – One Step Beyond
“Besides the cool science fiction theme, I also got this one because it had 2 original tracks by legendary exotica master Les Baxter. They are the best songs on this record.”
5- Mort Garson – Where Do We Go
“Another from Mort Garson, off his LP of cover songs from the musical Hair, done moog style. Much better if you don’t know the originals.”
6- Hugo Montenegro – Too High
“Hugo Montenegro playing Stevie Wonder cover tunes on the moog? Yes please! I got this one at a Salvation Army in Ohio while I was on my way to some record stores. It is way better than anything I found in any those stores. A great, great record.”
7- Emmett Frisbee- Watches The Captioned News
“This is from a local (Pittsburgh PA) artist, and I think this is his only release. I got it for a dollar at a local flea market, and it turned out to be a fantastic record, and one of my favorites. I would love to be able to re-issue it someday.”
8- Tonto’s Expanding Head Band – Timewhys
“I first heard TONTO on the radio back in the late 80’s. I was fortunate enough to have a tape running at the time, but I never knew who it was. It was only when I got this record a few years ago that I figured it out.”
9- Mort Garson – Good Morning Starshine
“One more from Hair. This one has been covered a million times, but never better.”
10- 10 Speed – Tour de France
“A nice cover of the classic Kraftwerk track, I think made for the movie Breakin’. Not sure where it was ever properly released, this is from a K-Tel breakdancing record.”
11- Keith Mansfield – Build Up
“A bit of funky prog KPM library music from one of my favorite producers/arrangers, Keith Mansfield.”
12- Mort Garson – Swingin’ Spathiphyllums
“The final one from Mort Garson, this time from his Plantasia album. The back cover says “full, warm, beautiful mood music especially composed to aid in the growing of your plants”. I wonder what sort of plants they were growing when they came up with this record?”
13- David Fanshawe – Oceans of Sound
“Another one from the KPM library, this time atmospheric bells.”
14- Electronic Moog Orchestra – Space Symphony
“The Electronic Moog Orchestra’s records look like they will be great, but they’re not. This track is pretty interersting, and one of their few originals.”
15- Black Moth Super Rainbow – Caterpillar House
“I had to throw something more modern in here, and nothing fit better than BMSR. This was the first track of there’s that I heard, and I got the vinyl immediately after hearing it (and just in time, as it went out of print right after that). Still one of my favorite’s of theirs.”
16- Synergy – Terra Incognita
“A pretty mediocre LP overall, with this 1 exception. And it’s on clear vinyl too, which is kinda cool….”
17- Chris and Cosey – Gates Of Ancient Cities
“I had this on cassette way back, and I listened to it ALOT. So when I saw an unopened vinyl copy on ebay for like 5 bucks, I snatched it up. Playing it again reminded me of driving around in my car after high school.”
18- Brian Eno – Through Hollow Lands
“I found a bunch of Eno’s early records at the local library. Obviously his later, more ambient releases would have been better, but there were some tracks on them that I thought were good- this one, and one that became one of my favorite songs, Here Come The Warm Jets”.
19- Terrence – The Emperor
“I found this record at Goodwill one day, and after a few more minutes of searching, I found a few more that were all owned by the same person (their name is written on them all), and they were all really good, including this one by Terence. This track is a nice example of late 60’s mind expanding experimental music.”
You can follow Lunar Testing Lab on his latest exploration – the LNT Facebook Page. And keep an en eye on the Secret Secret station sitefor more releases by Eric and a host of other talented electronica artists.