“I definitely don’t have a preferred style of music,” says Virginia musician Lary Hoffman. But he does have a preferred theme: outer space.
The 41-year-old resident of Falls Church has used the moniker Aerialist since 1997 for his eclectic instrumental output. When he’s not making music, he and his wife Erica are running two Virginia bars with a spacey motif: Galaxy Hut and Spacebar.
Aerialist has more in common with the shifting moods of a film score than a band with a clear-cut sound. Moon Patrol, Aerialist’s latest album, features sentimental melodies, aggressive riffs, gloomy ballads and beyond, all created with a rich palette of natural and synthesized tones that hark back to space-age eccentrics like Wendy Carlos and David Axelrod.
If Moon Patrol sounds out of this world, it’s intentional. According to Hoffman, the album is inspired by footage taken by the NASA New Horizons and Cassini space probes. He named the album’s songs after the various moons within our solar system.
“There were a lot of crucial moon encounters during this time period, and the moons had great names,” Hoffman says.
Moon Patrol collects Hoffman’s first set of Aerialist tracks since 2001, when a computer crash forced him to put his work on hold. After that, a busy life and career made it hard to rebound.
“For the majority of 2001 to 2014 I didn’t play music at all,” Hoffman says. At one point he attempted a “more rock” version of the project with a live drummer, but the lineup didn’t release any recordings. Hoffman finally returned to Aerialist last year.
“I started tediously composing music with a phone app,” Hoffman says. Then he upgraded to Ableton Live. Moon Patrol highlights this work as well as several updated versions of his songs from the ’90s.
Hoffman plans to blast off with more Aerialist material in 2016.
Recommended tracks: “Hydra,” “Triton,” “Thalassa” and “Proteus”