[sic] Magazine

Tara King th. – Stellar Fantasies

The last we heard of Ray Borneo’s Tara King th. project was on a brilliant 2014 collaboration with Danish psych-pop band Halasan Bazar. Back then Borneo was to be found alongside long-time singer Béatrice Morel-Journel and between them they have a truly beguiling back-catalogue full of noir cinematics, but now Tara King th. is back to being a solo project and, simply, Morel-Journel is a big loss. It’s not quite as straightforward as that, however, as Borneo has taken the opportunity to reinvent the Tara King th. sound in her absence, the band’s trademark baroque psych-pop now dialled way down in favour of intangibly spacey instrumentals and b-movie Theremin. Problem is, though, that the result is a little like going for a space-walk in that there’s little to grab a hold of.

That said, Stellar Fantasies is far from being all bad news … in fact many parts of it are pretty great, the atmospheric “Aïa”, for example, housing echoes of albums past, a mysterious organ line tied to choral backing sleuthing its way impressively through shadowy electronics and 8-bit FX. Exciting album highlight “Cosmoscillations” is even better, a kosmiche groove given a make-over via high-frequency noise and digital corruption. It’s the sound of Borneo’s on-board computer furiously running self-diagnostics during a breach and it’s a pity there’s just two minutes of it.

It’s lonely in space, though, and much of what remains misses a focal point, “Robotic Romance” – perhaps tellingly – little more than two strains of bleepy button-pressing by way of hopeless communication. In between these moments, Stellar Fantasies alternates between chilly sci-fi and hypnotic rhythms, ticking metronomes, pulses and indistinct drone patterns the soundtrack to a decaying cosmos.

Its tracks arrive in quick-fire formation so as not to outstay their welcome, “Stellar Journey” a squelchy bout of propulsive electro working its way through an asteroid field of dirty bass tones and meandering prog. Wheezy synth traces “Lady Robot” along wayward magnetic fields in turn as a bubbling oscillator bounces off the EQ. An ethereal vocal even creeps into “Cosmic Nap”, the flux momentarily stable as things head off in the direction of The Flaming Lips’ exploits in pop. The aptly named Avant experiment “Between Space And Time” latterly drops out completely to nothing but drips and clicks in order to ponder the big questions and Stellar Fantasies does consequently prove itself a bit of thinker. It’s also ultimately an optimistic and expansive listen, but one too that gets a little lost against the huge backdrop of an entire universe.

Best track: “Cosmoscillations”

~Stellar Fantasies is out now via Moon Glyph.~