Two years have past since the release of The Chromium Fence and the music of Portugueuse composer Luís Fernandes, under his Astroboy guise, has evolved quite substantially in this time period. His new album Flow My Tears is once again inspired by a Philip K. Dick’s novel but eschews most of the modular synthesisers and analogue sequencers used in his 2011 album. Instead Fernandes relies on a sound palette that is more diffused and abstract whilst teaming up with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and members of Qluster who provide additional electronics on a couple of tracks.
Fernandes’ new record takes cues from various events and characters encountered in the novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said but this new album is not a soundtrack of the book as such, perhaps more a refraction of Dick’s text into the composer’s machines and computers. Continuing to follow the retro-futuristic path explored in The Chromium Fence, Fernandes approached the dystopian reality imagined by the writer in a more enigmatic and restrained way. If the The Chromium Fence was quite a luminous album, Flow my tears occupies a more shadowy space that perfectly reflects the complexity of Dick’s story. Most of the 8 tracks on the album are quite circuitous in their development whilst exploring unexpected places and as such imbue the whole record with a sense of surprise, ambiguity and tension. ‘The jukebox’ for instance embodies quite well the intricacy of Fernandes’ sound work as the track oscillates between light arpegiatted synth work, saturated pads and undulating bass. Whilst the overall feeling is rather tranquil and peaceful, it comes in stark contrast with the mood and atmosphere of the track precedes it. ‘Alys’ OD’ is indeed charged with tense dissonance and abrasive syncopated white noise whilst towards the end an ominous dark drone dissolved the composition into a trail of black synths. ‘Unperson’, in the first part of the album, seamlessly evolves from brooding and ominous drones to more luminous and motoric gated synths whilst staying anchored to its modulated core. It is both simple and powerful and is perhaps Fernandes’ best piece overall.
Flow my tears is sonically complex and compositionally intricate. Like the novel it’s inspired from, the album follows a non-linear path throughout and explores moments of tension and release with subtlety. Luís Fernandes demonstrates with this new record that the space he opened two years ago with The Chromium Fence was just the beginning in his on-going explorations of Philip K. Dick singular vision. In the process he displays some rather impressive sound design skills and a flow-less sense of pace and story telling that expands upon his debut album whilst transcending its original direction.