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Pale Blue ‘The Past We Leave Behind’ – Album Review

2MR (2015)

Hot on the heels of Johnny Jewel’s score for Ryan Gosling’s much-maligned directorial debut, Lost River, New York producer Mike Simonetti (the other co-founder of Italo-disco label Italians Do It Better) returns to the fray under the guise of Pale Blue for his first album, The Past We Leave Behind.

Named after the Pale Blue Dot term used to describe the photograph of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990, it’s perhaps little surprise that Simonetti’s first project since the pair’s acrimonious split last year also possesses a certain cinematic quality, albeit of the cult sci-fi kind, rather than the pretentious arthouse variety.

As its title suggests, The Past We Leave Behind is also a rather meditative affair which reflects on everything from said behind-the-scenes troubles to Hurricane Sandy. However, thanks to the fairly indecipherable, if beautifully ethereal, vocals from recurring guest Silver Hands’ Elizabeth Wright, it’s a record which lets the music do most of the talking.

Drenched in a wave of gauzy synths and subtle electronic beats, the first half of the album often runs the risk of blurring into one homogenous mass, with the likes of the opening title track, “The Scars” and “Myself” providing plenty in the way of ambience, but little to hold onto.

Thankfully, Simonetti appears to wake up during the second half with a number of soundscapes which up the tempo while retaining the overwhelming sense of melancholy. “The Math” is an unexpected detour into nu-disco territory filled with sweeping strings. There’s a similar vibrant streak to the classic acid house of “The Eye,” while closer “One Last Thing” recalls the New Age techno of Opus III’s classic, “It’s A Fine Day.”

An album of two halves, The Past We Leave Behind is an exquisitely produced record, but Pale Blue could perhaps benefit from adding just a little more color next time around.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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