I stumbled upon Satellite Lost the same way folks find a lot of their new music these days: a little site (maybe you heard of it?) called myspace. The band’s name reminded me of Buffalo space-rockers Astronaut Lost, and I was surprised to find that the music was indeed similar. Long Island’s Satellite Lost also plays space-rock, equal parts bombastic instrumental and shoegaze-influenced rock, and I was hooked even during the one-minute opening instrumental.
Formed in 2003 with two members of The Cotton Weary, Satellite Lost released The Devil’s in the Details at what was the band’s final show. It’s unfortunate when a band breaks up just as its finding its stride, and anyone listening to The Devil’s will certainly hear a band at the top of its game and promising great things. But it’s admirable the band took the time and effort to release this album, and it deserves to be heard.
The first real track here, “Driving Down Solar,” is a gorgeous, swirling track filled with melodic and spacey guitars, synths, and intricate rhythms, a long, spiraling instrumental that sets the stage for the rest of the album to follow. The orchestrated rock sound transcends into more of a shoegaze approach with “Winter Arc,” as slightly echoed vocals come in over guitars that are mixed with just enough reverb. By the song’s end, it’s a spiraling, soaring mix of synths and guitars, brilliantly building and building to the point that you don’t want it to end.
“Cydonia,” despite its effect-laden guitars, is more traditional without the vocal effects, and it rocks nicely around the album’s mid-point for its entire eight-minute length, while “Rendezvous Point” manages to settle down a bit, taking a more restrained and flowing approach as evidenced by more melodic guitar and bass as well as some “ooo-ooo” vocals and the first occasion of sampled vocals. Great, booming drumwork highlights “24 Hours of Treading Water,” and “Following” layers the instruments beautifully, creating a more dreamlike result. Strings make a lovingly vibrant appearance on “Skyline,” floating along perfectly with the guitars, and when the song bursts into multiple, layered guitar work, it takes on an epic sound that reminds me of the brilliance of early emo bands like Mineral. Finally, “Departures” closes the album with a nearly perfect mix of piano, beats, and sampled vocals of “How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?” It’s a moody closing to an emotionally charged album.
The album’s not perfect. More time and money spent on production could have resulted in a perfect album, but it’s hard for a band parting ways to devote that much effort. As it is, the sound is very good (if the drums are mixed a bit too high), and the effects are strong. It’s really the structure of the songs and the incorporation of the instruments that’s brilliant. Many bands couldn’t do a long full-length in this style and keep the songs from bleeding together, but every song here is different and vivid in its own right. Fans of space-rock and shoegaze can find the perfect marriage in this unfortunately departed band.