Astronomar Serves Up Minimal 'Magic Potion', Promises Much More to Come
You’re wandering blindly through a cave of evils. Your mage powers are dangerously depleted. You know the boss is somewhere in the next five rooms, and you haven’t saved since you left the last town.
All seems lost when, suddenly, a lonely chest appears in the top-right corner of the map. You walk up to that solemn savior, open the lid, and guzzle the purple vial so as to immediately replenish your waning energies. Everything is instantly better. You are ready to rock this.
This is in fact not at all what the Alaskan L.A.-implant Mar Lumba, aka Astronomar, was thinking when he put his four-track "Magic Potion" EP together. Yes, the cover prominently features magic-blasting ViVi Ornitier sprites circa Final Fantasy IX, and yes, each track will give you the ability to conquer whatever boss is hounding your mundane day-to-day existence, but the video game references were a somewhat accidental after-thought.
“I’m the farthest thing from a gamer,” the producer laughs. “I just like the little guys. Despite his declaration to the opposite, 'Magic Potion' is reminiscent of a 64-bit universe. Its minimal composition is full of weird little bleep-bloops. The second track, “Earth Tones,” stands out like a chorus of electric crystal glasses.
“I’m pretty stoked on that track, its gotten some pretty crazy feedback,” Lumbar says. “It’s just so weird. It’s not like crazy club music, but it’s just totally cerebral. It’s like your inside a cave and there’s bells ringing.”
As a whole, Magic Potion is hard to classify. From “How We Live” to “Starekase,” it’s a steady progression into ever-quirkier waters, but each track is easy to digest, thanks in large part to the production’s simplicity.
“A lot of those tracks I made in one sitting,” he says. “’Earth Tones’ I made on a layover in San Francisco. I made ‘Sliver’ on a flight to Miami. I made ‘Starekase’ like a month ago. I drank a bottle of wine at 5:30 in the morning and just made a track. That’s why they’re kind of raw. They’re pretty minimal in that regard, but the idea is there and it just works.”
Where most producers prefer to work in the comfort of their home studios, Lumba finds his time on the road to be the most motivating. He’s constantly spurred by the inspiring figures around him, from fellow friends and weirdos Hasse de Moor and Massacooramaan, to his own label mates Neoterik and Bot of Crookers fame. Together, they’ve supported and pushed the edge of dance music, jointly running Main Course since 2013.
“We were all friends before that, and the label was like the fourth member of the crew,” he says. “It represents cool underground dance music that the other labels might not mess with for fear of it not being a big success or whatever, but we just love cool dance music. It doesn’t matter what style it is or if you think it’s something that would be a really profitable venture. We just want to support cool music and keep it real with the artists.”
At Main Course, Lumba certainly leads by example. His funky take on Wax Motif and Neoteric’s “Go Deep,” now three years old, continues to get big play from the likes of Skrillex and Martin Garrix. It helped put his bizarre style closer to the spotlight, and with Magic Potion, that bridge he’s building between the strange and the mainstream is one brick closer to completion.
“I realized that my music takes being nonsensical very seriously,” he says. “I don’t pull out my hair making music. I have fun doing it. At any given time, I have five sessions in the works or this weird bootleg and stuff that never gets heard. (Maybe they’re) really bad ideas, but I’m always trying things.”