Jonn Serrie

Jonn Serrie is both an aircraft pilot and a long-established composer of music for planetariums, which is a perfect resume for making spacemusic. Of course most of us will never know what the experience of space travel is really like...Serrie's instrumentals are more about possibilities, a kind of aural science fiction. It's left to your imagination to explore what those possibilities might be.

artist:
Jonn Serrie

country of origin:
USA

style(s):
Ambient, spacemusic, environmental

decades active:
80's - 10's

essential releases:

  • And The Stars Go With You (1987, New World)
  • Planetary Chronicles (1992, New World)
  • Planetary Chronicles vol. 2 (1994, New World)
  • Century Seasons (2000, New World)
  • The Stargazer's Journey (2003, New World)
  • Thousand Star (2009, New World)

Reviewed by Mike G

Electronic spacemusic has a long and rich history going back to the revolutionary, effects-laden guitar and organ workouts of late 1960's Pink Floyd. These sounds were first being created - not co-incidentally I believe - at exactly the same time in history that humankind first walked on another world. It wasn't just music, it was the soundtrack to a completely new chapter in the human story.

But how often does spacemusic give you the sensation of really, truly moving and floating in space, while at the same time touching you emotionally? Jonn Serrie's music does. He is both an aircraft pilot and a long-established composer of music for planetariums, which is a perfect resume for making music like this. Of course most of us will never know what the experience of space travel is really like. Realists maintain that space is dark and hostile and lonely and there would be nothing very romantic about being cooped up alone in a tiny spaceship half way across the galaxy a thousand light years from home. But like all good spacemusic, Serrie's instrumentals are more about possibilities, a kind of aural science fiction. It's left to your imagination to explore what those possibilities might be.

Serrie's sound show's he may be less interested in fully developed melodies than spacemusic peers like fellow American composer Alpha Wave Movement but that's no shortcoming. His best music is clean, subtle, minimal and airy. It also evokes that sense of awe and wonder that spacemusic aficionados know well. The six albums listed above are the finest examples of Serrie's output over 20-plus years in the "pure" spacemusic style, as distinct from his (very) lightweight excursions into relaxation muzak and commercial new age.

His debut album And Stars Go With You (1987) remains a true classic of its kind. It's all the more poignant given it was composed in the wake of the space shuttle disaster of 1986, a time when Serrie himself was working at NASA. The excellent Planetary Chronicles volume 1 (1992) and Volume 2 (1994) both collect pieces specifically commissioned for planetarium shows. Century Seasons (2000) is a very good double-length compilation which covers his recording career up to 2000. It contains mostly previously released material that's been extensively mixed and blended into two uninterrupted journeys. For the most part it's mercifully free of Christmas carols, Amreican Indian lite and new age earwash; the kind of material that crept into his output after the early 90's. Such albums account for about half of Serrie's catalogue, so beware.

The Stargazer's Journey (2002) and Thousand Star (2009) are Serrie's best albums from his fairly prolific post-2000 period, evidence again that spacemusic is the sub-genre where his star shines brightest. Both of these releases re-state his strengths as a composer of deep, mysterious, harmonious ambience for armchair travel.

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