Cool Maritime – the project of Sean Hellfritsch – unveils “Secret of the Megafauna,” the final single from his forthcoming album Big Earth Energy, out next Friday, May 20th, on Western Vinyl. Presented alongside a visualizer by Hellfritsch, “Secret of the Megafauna” is bookended by passages of soothing, glassy drone around its fleet-footed, vibrant middle. Like much of Big Earth Energy, “Megafauna” induces a state of reflection in both its busy and quiet moments, recalling the honed concentration of Hellfritsch’s inspiration: video game soundtracks. Of the track, Hellfrisch says: “What is the Secret of the Megafauna? Only a TIME FROG knows…This piece is a reflection on utopia. An ideal of perfectly balanced stasis. Is it possible? Whether or not, I find the optimism invigorating.”
Cool Maritime is at the frontline of an increasing phenomenon where reverence for the natural world is cultivated through digital mediums rather than being negated or contrasted by them. Big Earth Energy plumbs the depths of Hellfritsch’s multimedia mind and naturalist heart, spinning an impressionistic narrative world off of cultural touchstones like the PC game MYST, and the work of Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi. Using those inspirations and guided by Hellfritsch’s experience as an animator and filmmaker, Big Earth Energy is the soundtrack to a hypothetical video game with a pointedly ecological premise, and a twist of psychedelic charm.
Having crested the west coast modular-ambient wave in just a few releases – including 2018’s Sharing Waves on the influential LA experimental imprint Leaving Records – Sean Hellfritsch has swapped the mossy analog synth improvisations of his prior output for refined melodic arrangements dressed in sprightly dawn-of-digital textures. For Big Earth Energy, Hellfritsch created a musical world where the endless verdancy of the biosphere finds its parallel in the golden age of early 1990s video games, and late 80s Japanese environmental music, all while pointing to a hopeful planetary and artistic future that vindicates the motives of all of these muses.
Hellfritsch’s reconnaissance of virtual reality and actual reality feels skillfully balanced as if knowing how to navigate one dimension is merely training for traversing its opposite. On Big Earth Energy, he pinpoints the discovery, escape, introversion, and imagination that are mutual of the two worlds, which he scouts as if they are the same territory.