Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Null-O Band’s Martian Tavern Jukebox effectively creates a sonic world that reflects the imagery and feeling of the album title. The album has strange, exotic soundscapes with some interesting guitar and synth sounds that can create an eerie atmosphere.
There are also moments with a rather Middle Eastern feeling to them and some of the tracks are bursting with infectious energy and forward motion. There are images that form in the mind while listening to the album that carry the listener on a journey across the Red Planet.
The variety and uniqueness of the synth and guitar sounds stick out at me on Martian Tavern Jukebox. The effects and manipulation of the guitar sounds creates fascinating textures and auditory sensations.
I will admit that some of the sounds took a little getting used to, but they do certainly generate an original atmosphere. The synths create some hard-to-define sounds that combine to produce a feeling of encountering a musical culture that is related to our own, but alien from it as well. All of these sounds combine in a way that transports the listener to a new, intriguing world.
I find the injection of modes and scales that have a Middle Eastern feeling on this album helps to create the notion of wandering the great red wastes of Mars with caravans. There is a sense of taking a journey through that waste with those who have to traverse it to survive. I have to say that I went on quite a mental flight of fancy while listening to Martian Tavern Jukebox.
The other element that stood out for me on this album is the use of drums and bass that establish a strong, solid bottom end along with a feeling of motion and energy. There are beats that are danceable and others that propel the music along and add a sense of depth and strength to the overall package.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
Here is a look at some of my favourite tracks.
"Red Desert Caravan"
"Red Desert Caravan” comes to life as solid and a shadowy wash of synth are joined by a hollow lead playing a ghostly melody along with dark piano notes and a high distorted sound. The beat throbs as a tense, moving line of steel drum-esque synth sounds adds an intense, rapid melodic pattern. I also enjoy the howl of the tightly wound lead over top of the beat under it.
There’s also a hypnotic, minor key pattern with a Middle Eastern quality played on a twanging guitar with some added harp-like qualities that adds to the theme of a caravan out in some ancient red waste on Mars.
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“Ursa Minor Dance Patterns”
A steady oscillating bass pulse, strange and technological sounding synth bleeps and bursts and hard hitting drums open “Ursa Minor Dance Patterns” while a dynamic, driven lead synth moves over those shifting patterns. The lead has a soaring feeling to it that carries out over the drums and washes of other synth sounds that flow in waves underneath it.
The sound engages my ears with dense layers of interlocking synth while the twisting and howling lead guitar whirls through the music before we return to that jumping, shifting and computerized sounding pattern fades out.
“Martian Time Slip”
“Martian Time Slip” starts on ethereal notes that float out over a hard-hitting industrial beat and oscillating bass depth under that. Dark, twisting sounds worm across the background as a choppy, bouncing lead synth melody voyages through the track and create a shifting, slipping feeling as befits the track title.
Another ear-pleasing manipulated guitar forms full, minor key patterns that roam across the surface of the notes rising under it. The shadows grow under the lead as it cries out with increasing power. It’s doubled with a hard-hitting synth that smacks into the music before we get back to the initial synth sound along with another repetitive, trance-like guitar pattern.
The percussion that kicks off “Interceptor 66” has a unique, hollow sound along with alien, shifting sounds that float into the open sonic space of the track. There’s a quick oscillating synth pattern that has a ghostly feel to it as it calls out over the dynamic and shifting bass and beat under it. I like the contrast as a warmer glow swells into the music while the percussion and bass drive onward.
A nasal sounding, twanging guitar adds another musical pattern that sends out bursting clusters of notes over the surging beat before climbing patterns of keyboard notes flow into the music. There are lighter elements that swirl around before the track returns to the twangy guitar sound playing atonal patterns of notes.
“Too Much Water”
“Too Much Water” leaps to life with a throbbing house beat banging into the track along with a sweep of wind and a synth with a thick dense feeling that matches the beat’s throb as it plays a rapid pattern of notes. Under it, there’s a warmer pulse of synth that grows in strength, while a distant-sounding pattern of notes drifts into the music.
I especially enjoy the rough-edged electric guitar that charges into the music along with the lead synth carrying a mysterious minor key melody. The melody has Middle Eastern overtones that create a feeling of desert nomads wandering Martian wastes.
“Feels Like Home”
A melancholy wandering synth pattern flows over drifts and flashes of sound to start “Feels Like Home” before smoothly gliding synth sounds float and swirl around it. The beat adds forward motion to the music as the high synth notes glow and shine over it.
A tech-y, oscillating sonic pulse moves through the music, feeling easy over that throbbing beat. I am drawn to the chiming synth that plays a yearning pattern over the shifting sounds under it. The driving beat is joined by a high, leaping synth with trumpeting qualities that adds more energy as it carries the uplifting melody.
Martian Tavern Jukebox is full to the brim with personality and character. The music has quite an individual feeling to it. There is an exotic, distinct and unique quality that comes from it and the way it carries the listener into a new world is quite enjoyable!