I'd previously heard Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom from their contribution to the triple-disc DFA Compilation #2 that came out last year. Their somewhat amorphous analogue synth track stuck out a bit from the more dance-oriented fair on the album, and I wondered if the track of theirs was sort of a one-off trip-out piece or something more akin to their usual output. As The Days Of Mars proves, the two (who met each other in the in the art world and have done everything from video, performance, theatre, and visual art) are interested in creating beat-less worlds of swirling sounds that call to mind work from everyone from Vangelis to Klaus Schültze to Tangerine Dream.
At four tracks and just over 50 minutes, the problem with The Days Of Mars is that it's just too formless and unfocused to be very interesting most of the time. "Rise" opens the release with a soft wash of sound and soon layers on some very basic arepeggios and some very slight modulation, but ends up sounding like a slightly watered-down copy of one of the aforementioned artists while "13 Moons" is even more noodling, seemingly more obsessed with the sounds of the instruments themselves than creating anything that grabs your attention.
"Relevée" is easily the most successful track on the entire album, as it takes a slightly more aggressive (relatively speaking, of course) stance and piles dense arpeggios on one another for something that sounds like the soundtrack to a futuristic chase film while "Black Spring" is another long-form workout that mixes slightly creepy chords with ringing arpeggios and sounds that give it an almost John Carpenter soundtrack lean. As a whole, The Days Of Mars is going to leave a majority of DFA fans scratching their heads. While their are some fairly interesting sounds on the release (I've simply got a weak spot for analogue synths, whether it be twiddling the knobs personally and losing track of time in doing so, or simply listening to them), I have to say that work like Phaedra and Rubycon by Tangerine Dream are still much more involving, interesting, and even hypnotic to me.