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Second Launch Jody Beth , June 17th, 2014 14:12

Second Launch, Swedish duo Bremen's maiden voyage on Blackest Ever Black and the follow-up to their self-titled debut, is meant to evoke "nothing less than the vast emptiness of outer space and the obliteration of all meaning and identity in the face of it." So says the press release, and the ambition of the statement hearkens back to similar Krautrock and psychedelic outings of the 1970s.

And although the concept is terrific, it's likely a cheeky bit of arch pretense rather than a staunch belief. Outer space doesn't sound like the noise hippies at Austin Psych Fest, as Bremen often does; it sounds like an Ed Wood dime-store spaceship model, or the inter-dimensionally clairvoyant UFO-chasing of the Unarians, or the hyper-optimistic futurism of The Tornados' 'Telstar.' Despite Bremen's contemporary view of the extraterrestrial realm as something cold and void rather than an atomic-age vision of green men with sinewy fingers outstretched toward mankind, there's a strong subset of people who want to believe and will reach for their copy of Apollo 18 when the yen strikes.

Luckily, there's room enough in the world for both factions. Second Launch is a lovely late entry in instrumental post-rock's unabridged encyclopedia. It's successful, if not always gripping — one senses that Bremen blossoms in a live setting, under the spell of an intoxicant or even just a strategically employed essential oil.

About half of Second Launch's tracks meander past the 10-minute mark, but the best songs here are the shorter ones, including 'The Forgotten Ones', which marries Ghost Box–style hauntological sci-fi with the tortuous guitar curlicues of The Grateful Dead. 'They Were Drifting' pulses along like a chilly, dark-ambient Spacemen 3. The slow crawl of 'Threshold Crossing' suggests nothing less than a night drive through the Mojave Desert, as the scorpions slink over the prickly pear and yucca plants.

This album requires a particular headspace; for a generalist listener it would shuffle awkwardly with the latest Beyoncé single on a beach-day jaunt. It's more efficacious as a comeup companion, that best friend when everyone else is lying on the floor at 4am and all the windows are wide open but there's no outer space because the city's light pollution obscures the stars. That's fine: whether it's Sweden or Joshua Tree or the urban sensorium, the mysteries of Earth hold endless fascination.