Every once in a while you encounter a band who
just do things differently, completely their own way, to hell
with any conventions or trends. Spaceheads are one such band.
They have a trumpeter and a drummer. The trumpeter plays through
a ton of effects, and the drummer also does sequenced synth
and samples. The overall effect is that Spaceheads are a sort
of jazz/electronica fusion act. In fact, i am going to on record
and state that they are the best darn jazz/electronica
fusion act around. Not that there is much competition....
According to the ever useful All Music Guide,
this is Spaceheads 5th album, but it is only their second US
release on Merge Records. I have found it exceedingly difficult
to find their non-US releases (and by exceedingly difficult,
i mean "impossible"), but that shouldn't deter you from enjoying
this one disc. i just tell you this as a sort of disclaimer
-- if you get addicted to the music and spend insane amounts
of money ordering import albums, well, it's not my fault. And
the thing is -- you will get addicted to Spaceheads. Just as
they are a deeply experimental band, they are also a deeply
talented act. They also succeed in crafting very catchy tunes.
Well, for the most part. But even the stuff that isn't catchy
per se is still interesting.
There is much to enjoy on this disc, so let me just go over a few highlights. Low Pressure is futuristic jazz with weird effects, strange IDMish sounds in the background, and odd echoes. It's the type of jazz one would hear in a cheesey sci-fi film as a space station orbits some far planet. All that, and it's got a great beat too.
On a Clear Day starts with an eerie, backwards masked drums effect and a sinister bass riff, then it suddenly speeds up and becomes a drum-n-bass track. A good one too. It reminds me of some of the work of Roni Size, all clattering percussion and drones. The trumpet here is a slow drone, almost lost in the clanging and thumping of the beats.
Pressure Point features a nice trumpet drone backed up by clattering noises and synth bloops and blips. Very electro, and rather lovely, especially the horn bit. The horn also really shines on The Hut, with a different type of drum echo, more hip-hop than IDM here, and long echoing notes.
There are also two ambient pieces on the disc, and both of them are rather pleasant They are Storm Force 8 and Red Shift, and they are simply lovely, wandering affairs. The trumpet builds up layers and layers of droning sound in each of these tracks, and the drummer adds interesting highlights. However, each of these two songs is more about sonic texture created on a trumpet than classic "wandering" ambience. And, really, they sound lovely.
I really really like this disc. It's very unique, and quite well done. If you have even the slightest interest in anything vaguely jazz, you should track this disc down. If you like avant-garde electronica, well, i think you will find something to like here as well.