Jesus On Mars
Posted In: Dissolving Records, James Catchpole, Jesus On Mars
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A sunset on Mars looks eerily similar to a sunset seen on Earth…
A stunning sight, this beautiful sunset is not the only similarity Earth shares with Mars. The red planet has always been shrouded in mystery; a haven for science fiction ever since the early 1950’s that has created both little green men and the ever present, multiple theories of whether life ever even existed. Jesus on Mars proves that there is life on Mars, but it’s only to be found when peering around closely after the sun has set, deep inside red tinted, mysterious caverns concealed shyly away from orbiting satellites and the crystal clear sight of robotic eyes. What life there is remains out of sight, but not out of mind. Polar ice caps, seasonal change and the very real shifts in climate and temperature affect Earth just as they affect the atmosphere and surface of Mars. Failed attempts to scour the planet in the past have only fuelled and increased speculation as to what the planet holds. NASA images show tantalising glimpses of an unexplored, rocky land further up ahead, temptingly within range and reachable within days. Do other eyes look at this same Sun? Let’s discover.
Invasion – Martian or otherwise – remains deeply rooted into the foundation of fear, a fear that increases due to a loss of control in the presence of another, a domination against our will along with the fear of the unknown. And yet, history shows us that perhaps it is our own species we should be afraid of when it comes to invasion, and not extraterrestrial life.
‘Jesus on Mars’ opens with a foreboding, suffocating air of dark, streaming synth as we touch down on an alien planet; demolished dust from the ignition boosters cloud the vision and scorch the red rock. As signals rebound, scanning the newly discovered land, an alien drone penetrates the track with a cold intent. The deep mystery inside the drone fuels the fire of fear, but the excitement of discovery ensures that the fear is only a threat, and not a domination of the mind. At least, not yet.
There’s no problem and no reason to relay back to Houston; judging by Jesus on Mars (even though we should remember His is the only judgement), the Martian atmosphere is even more diverse in the flesh than the photographs we’ve all been receiving. Thankfully, any sign of Mars Attacks! seems to be restricted to popular culture.
Curiosity, the NASA Martian rover, is exploring the red soil and the surface of Mars right at this second. The Martian surface remains an eerie sight, despite a reassuring arm of Humanity on the planet (albeit a technological one), and yet, looking at the photographs, it still appears strangely familiar to the North American deserts much closer to home. Jesus on Mars beams these strange signals back to mission control in waves of dark synth and sci-fi influenced kosmische music. It’s an early synth which feels as cold and untested as the metallic instruments on the lander’s debut flight. Jesus on Mars – also a 1979 science fiction novel by Philip Jose Farmer – scans the atmosphere, sending back 20th century imagery that can only now be received in the 21st century. Jesus on Mars shoots colourful laser beams of sonic frequencies, possibly inspired by the post-war, early German synth pioneers, and a sound so successfully revived earlier this year with Loops of Your Heart. Electronic warbles rebound dark omens, transmitting an imminent invasion – those crop circles in the Wiltshire wheat might not have been man-made after all.
‘Martian Deserts of the Mind’ evolves into a screaming synth, as if the music is being pulled through those shaded caverns by a force that cannot be controlled or even tamed; a steel, static link of telepathy, influencing the mind over the body and leaving us in a state of dazed shock. Static tries to invade the music like an entity forcing itself upon the subconscious; the result is a Lovecraftian effect of cosmic horror where sanity is questioned and then broken in the face of an ancient, supernatural deity. One has the feeling that this God doesn’t like us being here. Tempestuous and unpredictable, the music snakes like the uneven, unexplored red terrain, and we are never sure what is going to happen next. This is, of course, a very good thing. Static overrides the systems on-board, leaving us confused as to whether the experience was really a gripping form of mind-control, or if it was only a psychotic hallucination, influenced by a 2 year voyage and a very real alienation caged inside a silent shuttle, a long way from home and comfort.
The mind, and the music, plays tricks when you’re alone on this planet; a sphinx face in the soil (and even a news report of what looked like Bigfoot taking a stroll, just walking around and doing his thing), return as unwelcome thoughts standing on the surface, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to find the Son of Man as we disembark. A holy image is imprinted in the rock, wrapped in red soil like the blood red stains shrouded in Turin cloth.
Puffs of auburn cloud exhale an air void of oxygen, leaving traces of synths snaking around the planet like our heavy, slow-motion footsteps leaving traces imprinted in the ground – patterns that could resemble another face, if we aren’t too careful. Yet, these footsteps aren’t the only trace of civilisation. These signals, lost in space, shudder as the record progresses. A static, where scuttling life seems to be crawling up and over the rise of mountains and out of crimson tunnels, takes hold. Maybe the tunnels conceal our true Gods, and long lost creators that disappeared thousands of years ago. In this cloying spacesuit, the sound seems slightly muffled, but the music is still audible over the rhythmic intake of breath. A dull Martian light glints off the visor, in a panoramic land of swirling sand.
‘At the Dreaming Pole’ may be the liquid water we were searching for; we’ve been told repeatedly that it shouldn’t exist, but the synth is lighter and trickles along the ground before soaking into the rock to confound the scientists. The motion seems to have an intelligence of its own, squirming like tiny black worms in Martian rock pools. The whole track feels like it’s walking on frozen, holy water, but it’s another deception of the mind – any water evaporated millions of years ago.
Ghosts of Martian melody cycle over ‘Martian Time Slip’, as the return to the lander looms. Electronic signals and the clunks of futuristic machinery echo inside the ship as we prepare to leave the rocky surface. Repetitious electronic beams bounce left and right, like an explosive engine on standby. Amid the furious experimental whirring, signals beam back dialect in a foreign, alien language, a melody slowly rises and the stunning sphere of Mars comes into sight.
Dust storms cover Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system – and known to man – and it’s left completely clouded in low visibility and whistling thermal winds. This is the violent music of Mars. All tracks were recorded live in space (but we missed Felix jumping out at 128,000 ft, destined for New Mexico). Put the flag in the side of the mountain, on the crescent where the setting sun strikes, so that it lights up the flag in deeper, chrome shades that match the American red and white.
Like Our Saviour, we come in peace.
- James Catchpole for Fluid Radio