The wonderment of the natural world, a commitment to experimentation and a utopian ideology define the music of Sagan Youth. Unconstrained by genre limitations, their musical palette is expansive. From cosmic drones to bare-knuckle dancefloor burners to Spaghetti Western-esque organ ditties, Sagan Youth’s sound draws influence from the ideas of their namesake, Carl Sagan, the rich history of electronic and classical music and incalculable hours probing the limits of sonic expression via a plethora of synthesizers and effects units.
It is difficult to pinpoint an exact start date of the group. Its members, Scotty MC^2 and Mai Phili, have lived in Carrboro, NC (which is home to numerous other outstanding underground electronic acts) and have produced music together since at least 2007 under countless guises. In 2012, their first release, a cassette entitled “Heliosheath”, reflected these murky origins: its A-side is a 31-minute opus of analog tape degradation – hazy reflections of half-forgotten melodies barely pierce a primordial hiss. The other side contained a sonic narrative documenting the departure of the space probe Voyager II from our solar system, deftly navigating multiple genres connected by a cohesive vision and all-hardware instrumentation. Their 21st-century take on Komische Musik was further developed in their debut LP, “Annotated Universe”, released by Tone Log in 2013, and presented tracks investigating both the minute and the infinite: a humanistic and holistic interpretation of the cosmos.
In 2015, Sagan Youth brings us “Cela”, an ambitious 10-song concept album which chronicles a futuristic crewed voyage to Saturn’s icy moon of Enceladus. Drawing equally from cutting-edge astronomic discoveries, classic science fiction and Lovecraftian horror, Sagan Youth delivers a diverse selection of electronic compositions, informed by hypnotic Berlin School arpeggios, acid house, 20th century avant-garde works, Italo Disco, dub reggae and much more. The sonic cycle reflects the narrative prowess of Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems as well as the vivid expressionistic qualities in the tone poems of Richard Strauss. “Cela” is presented by Break World Records in a deluxe full-color gatefold sleeve, the inside of which is graced by an intricate Moebius-esque comic that also portrays the album narrative.