Experience a musical voyage of celestial proportions as Lucius Fox takes you to the Jovian moons on their epic album called Medicea Sidera
Galileo’s Medicea Sidera
In 1610, Galileo Galilei published Sidereus Nuncius (Heavenly Messenger), in which he shared his discoveries by observing the sky with a telescope. In his observations, he noted four stars that appeared near the planet Jupiter. Galileo wrote:
“I therefore concluded and decided unhesitatingly, that there are three stars in the heavens moving about Jupiter, as Venus and Mercury round the Sun; which at length was established as clear as daylight by numerous subsequent observations. These observations also established that there are not only three, but four, erratic sidereal bodies performing their revolutions round Jupiter…the revolutions are so swift that an observer may generally get differences of position every hour.”
Galileo called these four stars “Medicea Sidera” or “Medici Stars” to honor his former student, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo II de’ Medici, and his three brothers for their patronage.
I wanted to share this bit of history as a preamble to the amazing new album by Lucius Fox called Medicea Sidera. As wondrous as the discoveries of Galileo in 1610, so too is the sublime masterpiece created by this band. This vast and striking piece of music instills the same wonder, the awestruck fascination, the unbelievable complexity, and the simple beauty of looking into the night sky and pondering our place in this amazing universe.
Lucius Fox is Paul Drake Jr. (drums) and Jeremy Cronk (guitar/synths) for those new to this progressive rock band from Kalamazoo. My first encounter with these wizards of sound was at Oigs Fest in 2022. I left that show with the utmost admiration for this band. Their earlier works, Solastalgia and Quaternary Panorama, are similar to Medicea Sidera in that they cover deep and sweeping themes (climate change and geology in the case of earlier albums). What puts Medicea Sidera at the top of their prodigious catalog is the songwriting and performance. While the early works are technically excellent, something at work on this new album elevates the band to new heights.
Movements of the Moons of Jupiter
Medicea Sidera is arranged into movements that take you sonically toward Jupiter through encounters with each of the four Galilean moons. Our first stop is Callisto.
The oldest and most scarred surface known in our solar system belongs to the moon called Callisto. This moon glides into view as you ride in with a droning synth and marching drums. The pitted and ancient surface of the moon comes into view as the guitars explore an ethereal riff. This riff and somber cadence capture the otherworldliness of this place. The drums accelerate as you drift ever closer to the primordial landscape. In an instant, the music bursts into a shower of notes reflecting the impact of so many asteroids upon the surface of this moon.
Next, we encounter the largest moon in the solar system, Ganymede. The music takes on the dimensions of this giant moon with charging heavy guitars, furious notes, and crashing drums. The music continues as the source of locomotion. We glide briefly, glimpsing the subsurface ocean in watery tones and a rhythmic cadence. Before we move on, we are hammered with the orbital resonance. Ganymede, Europa, and Io are locked into a 1-2-4 resonance with each other. For one revolution of Ganymede around Jupiter, Europa will make two, and Io will make four. Here, Lucius Fox employs thundering bass notes and drums to set a pattern that will be reflected as we journey further.
Our voyage moves on to Europa, which is unusually smooth and believed to be the home to a subsurface ocean covered in ice. Lucius Fox continues the exploration of resonance with their music. Here, we find some of the most dynamic work in this composition. The icy expanse of this moon is cast through guitars that sound immense and hypnotizing. The hidden mysteries of this place are manifested through lyrical guitar phrases, a heartbeat, and the gentle splash of drums. Explosions of drums and guitars then rocket us away.
Past Europa, we encounter the smallest of the four Jovian moons, Io. While it may be small, Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system. Its proximity to Jupiter causes the moon to be enveloped in a radiation cloud as Jupiter’s magnetic field rips across its surface. The extreme nature and chaos of this volcanic world is portrayed in the music with a frenzy of guitar and rolling drums. The discordant guitar, smashing toms, and violent snare add to the feeling of energetic havoc that must exist on this tumultuous object. Toward the end of this movement, the music softens with resonant drums and resounding synths.
Our sonic voyage reaches its zenith with the arrival of Jupiter—the largest planet. If not for the sun, Jupiter would likely have become a star. Jupiter’s mystical and majestic qualities are expressed through delicate arpeggios and hushed drums. The tempo hints at a coming exaltation in the face of this beautiful and overwhelming spectacle in the sky. In a sweeping rush of swirled guitars and dashing beats accented with thunder, you can feel the heat and fury of a planet constantly consumed by endless storms. Sonorus synths and the melodic interplay give way to a direct and forceful pulse. It is as if the grasp of Jupiter’s mighty gravity and the tremendous pressures of its atmosphere have consumed us completely.
A Heavenly Album
Medicea Sidera is a marvelous and dazzling album. I’m astounded by the creativity, ingenuity, and technical prowess of Lucius Fox. They have crafted a dizzying sonic artwork that is a joy to listen to again and again and again and again. I hope Lucius Fox gets a record deal allowing them to release this wonderful recording on vinyl. Until then, enjoy it in its digital form. If you really want to expand your experience with this album, pair it with some fascinating visuals from the European Space Agency.
One final note: Cheers to Chris Frankhauser for his excellent recording and mix conducted at Raygun Recording in Kalamazoo. This recording was mastered by Blake Bickel at Dynamic Sound Mastering. The visual artwork for Medicea Sidera was painted by Kelsey Goode with digital layout by Juan Dean.
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