When Bambi and Cole Browning started writing the songs that would be become Reptaliens’ 2017 debut LP, FM-2030, they had no intention of starting a band. Focusing at first on creating music and art on a purely personal level, the project soon took off when the duo brought on Julian Kowalski (guitar) and Tyler Verigin (drums) to form a live band. The four-piece swiftly delved into songwriting inspired by sci-fi art and literature, cult mentalities, and deep connections. The result was the band’s self-defined genre of “dreamwave,” which connected musical influences ranging from Gary Wilson-inspired jazzy lounge music, the warmth of Broadcast’s recording production, to Todd Rundgren’s outer space synth sounds.
After touring throughout most of 2017 and 2018 with STRFKR, Cults, and Of Montreal, the band returned home and went straight into renowned Portland studio Jackpot to record their sophomore LP, VALIS. Titled after the 1981 Philip K. Dick novel, VALIS was released via Captured Tracks in April 2019.
(Photo Credit: Eirrin Gragson)
Not too far from Earth exists a small lonely planet with no known inhabitants — except for a little guy known only as First Entry. He is short in stature, blob-ish in his bodily proportion, and generally happy in his demeanor. The round, oblong body of First Entry is framed by large thumbs that protrude from what would be his hips if he were shaped like a human; these thumbs have well-manicured, cleanly trimmed nails which he uses to crawl through the dusty ground of his home planet. His head, rather toe-shaped, houses his simple face which consists of his two longing eyes, one short nose, and a small simple mouth. With only his two large thumbs as a means of transportation, he slowly traverses the planet that he alone inhabits. With lonely eyes, he scans his surroundings, forever searching for friends.
The planet that First Entry lives on is something like the planet known by Earthlings as “Mars.” It is orange and dusty; sandy and full of rocks. Short mountains jut out from the ground up and create trails for First Entry to meander through. The sky at night, though cold, is full of stars and provides a view of planets that seem so close, yet so far away. The days on this planet are hot and dry.
One day, while climbing through a particularly unique patch of rocks, First Entry found a small round hole, bored through the thick rock from some unknown source. Having nothing else to do, and curious about this rock formation, he scooted his soft pudgy body closer towards the hole in the rock, he lowered his head and pressed his orbital against the rock. What he saw brought a smile to his thin pursed lips: an unfamiliar feeling to the secluded First Entry.
Inside this hole were many unfamiliar characters. There was a large, pudgy faced fellow wearing an ear-to-ear smile which seemed almost to stretch to the five eyes mounted below his forehead. There was a young creature whose body was only a giant fist. Connected to this fist by a strong muscular neck was a head with wild, untamed hair and a boyish grin. Moving his gaze from left to right, First Entry was met with another new being: a big momma adorned in leather motorcycle jacket, dark sunglasses, and short wind-whipped, grey streaked hair. First Entry was elated.
With no time to question where these new friends came from, nor a moment to manifest any feelings of fear from the new appearance of beings on what had forever been thought of as a lonely planet, First Entry was filled with the joy of knowing he wasn’t alone anymore. Though his awkward little thumbs would never be able to claw through the rock to reach these strange creatures more directly than by the scrutiny of his strained eye, merely knowing of their existence was enough for First Entry. First Entry was no longer alone.
First Entry had been alone his entire life. He had no family and had never been presented with an explanation of where he came from. There seemed to be no beginning, ending, or reason to his existence. Fated to wander the deserted planet, he was offered no companionship or help through his tireless journey. He had never known a home or a permanent location. He had never seen another being. Until now.
It took a long while before First Entry could build the courage to remove his eye from the view of his new world. He was afraid these characters would disappear when he looked away. He was afraid he would never find them again. After what felt like weeks of observation through the hole in the rock, he finally removed his eye to once again look upon his lonely Martian surroundings. All was still the same. Excited and somewhat filled with shock, he immediately forced his eyeball against the soft rock in order to look through the hole again. His friends were still there. It did not seem that they were going anywhere. Realizing that he was never going to be alone again, his blobby body jiggled in a small happy dance. The smile on his face widened and his eyebrows raised to see more with every happy glance.
First Entry was home. He no longer needed to walk across harsh jagged mountain tops, vast orange deserts, or large difficult boulders. There was no need to wander anymore; no need to search. Whenever he felt alone, he could look upon his friends and know that he had companions. First Entry had found an escape from his planet. He had never known what he was searching for or known why he felt compelled to continuously travel across his planet; only through stumbling upon this small random hole in the rock, he had found the answer to questions he never knew he had. First Entry had found his friends.
(Photo Credit: featured left, Eirrin Gragson; illustrations, Bambi Browning)