We first heard from Jesse James Allen in July of 2021 upon the release of his Epic instrumental concept album, “Cassini.” That record introduced readers of The Static Dive to an awarding-winning composer of music for video games and film. Since first being inspired by the great pioneering electronic musicians of the 1970’s and 80’s, his career has been defined by the marriage of music and technology.
However, Jesse James Allen’s love of technology is not limited to an interest in quantized binary musical bits or pixelated animated images. Since childhood he has been drawn to the science and wonder of Space travel. “Cassini” was in many ways the culmination of a lifelong dream for the artist as it told the story of the 1997 Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moons.
“Stories from our Sol” is the brand new album from Jess James Allen, released worldwide to all major streaming services on March 21, 2022. Once again the composer takes us back to the stars. He explains that the record is a ‘theater of the mind space odyssey.’ Over the course of 11 tracks he and a cast of expert talent relay the tales of 10 historic missions from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Soviet Union.
The record opens with an Prelude read by University of Central Florida physicist and podcast host Dr. Joshua Colwell. Over orchestral strings and synths he explains that the history of human space exploration is best told through the eyes of the world’s legendary unmanned missions and the scientists who brought them to life.
It is a fascinating listen with plenty of historical surprises for the casual Space observer. For instance, we learned of the remarkable accomplishments of the former Soviet Union’s space program on tracks like “Luna 3” in which architectural designer Anzhelika Arbatskaya tells of the first images taken of the moon’s dark side. Jesse James Allen matches the dramatic tale with a theatrical score featuring a decidedly Eastern European musical vibe.
Taino Storyteller Bernice Chaberier follows with the story of NASA’s 1973 mission to Mercury on “Mariner 10.” The track transforms from a percussive and melodic classical piece to an ethereal meditation featuring ambient synths and a melancholy female vocal. On “Pioneer 10,” artist Paul Austin Sanders delivers a first hand account of the mission to Jupiter and beyond.
“Venera 09” once again visits the Soviet Union to tell the story of the now defunct nation’s exploration of Venus. Dr. Joshua Colwell returns for “Viking 1,” the first successful NASA mission to Mars which set the stage for decades of exploration. Jesse James Allen follows the narrative with an extended cinematic and dramatic minor-key coda.
In 1985 the European Space Agency launched “Giotto,” a craft designed to fly directly into the path of Haley’s Comet. Filmmaker Andy Painter gives his history lesson over a rhythmic Synthwave groove. Later the track opens up to a powerful cinematic score. NASA’s groundbreaking ‘Voyager 2‘ mission receives an appropriately regal soundtrack provided by Jesse James Allen who also narrates the tune. In the instrumental outro the song slides through serene New Age vibes and majestic orchestral images.
Actor Lori Katz relays the ominous scenes of Jupiter’s unforgiving atmosphere and terrain found by the historic Galileo mission. Allen paints a powerful avant-garde musical mural of celestial turmoil. “Dawn” delivers more surprising history with the story of Ceres, a planetoid orbiting in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. As Orlando musician and educator Jordan Christenot explains, the small celestial body has an atmosphere, water and could theoretically support life.
The album closes on “New Horizons (Clyde’s Theme),” as writer and storyteller Bobby Wesley explains how the mission of the song’s title was inspired by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. The piece eventually transforms into the album’s only lyrical vocal performance, bringing the record to a powerful and operatic conclusion featuring violinist Daniel Cortes and vocalist Paul Austin Sanders.
In “Stories from our Sol,” Jesse James Allen once again delivers an epic and inspiring piece of work that successfully marries his two loves of science and music. It is a beautiful and moving record, best experienced in an interactive mode. Do yourself a favor while listening, cruise over to storiesfromoursol.com and follow along with behind the scenes stories and videos, profiles of the artists involved and a deep dive into the narrative and musical composition of each track.
Check out the “Stories from our Sol” trailer below, and then listen to the full album on your favorite streaming service. You can also hear the track “Voyager 2” on the Deep Indie Chill playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Jesse James Allen. Get on his socials and dig into his fascinating and impressive catalog of work.