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A decade on since the first Bastian Void releases on Digitalis, Joseph Bastardo returns with Topia, his full-length follow-up to 2019’s Acreage on Muzan Editions. On Topia, he returns to the sound worlds established in his previous works, while tapping into new realms of production value and songwriting to bring them into larger scale and sharper focus.

Developed throughout years rife with joy, fear, excitement, insecurity, growth, loss and love, the album title references an ambiguous sense of place. Conceptually, Bastardo investigates the mixed messages and contradictions of modern life, our place in it, and what kind of futures lie beyond it. Aesthetically, Topia is a treasure trove of simulated landscapes, endless skyboxes, and impossible architecture, reflecting on reality as a foil to the digital expanse.

Technically, Topia builds on the MIDI-controlled writing techniques that were established on 2020’s Bounce, Replace (a collection of odds and ends released on Bastardo’s own Moss Archive imprint). Here, the approach is solidified with a suite of 13 tracks unified by a sense of tonal cohesion. The sound is more structural than before, with greater emphasis on rhythm and chord progression. Hazy interludes serve as a bird’s-eye view of the polygonal map, while the core tracks bring us deeper into the geometric labyrinths and tunnels beneath the pine-dotted hills.

Many of the pieces were performed and refined live, and distilled down to their purest essence at home. Topia was recorded to quarter-inch tape and PC at Moss Archive and mastered by Kevin Hein. Jesse DeRosa plays Steiner EVI on “Air Chrystalis.”

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