February 18, 2008

What IS Space Rock?

Space Rock means many things to many people, but here it will be our blanket term for rock music that, sonically, takes the listener to outer realms... takes the listener on journeys, not to urban conflagrations or pastoral settings, not wild jungles, glacial wastelands, desert highways nor epic mountaintops, for, while those are all well and good, as the true devotee knows, "space is the place."

Space rock takes you to the cosmos and back again, and while the subgenres abound... psychedelic, acid rock, post rock, progressive rock, shoegaze, experimental, et al... the Germans had a term to encompass it all: KOSMISCHE. And that's where we're aiming for here in the Spacerock Continuum: sharing the truly COSMIC music of this world with the eyes-and-ears-wide-open listeners who are ready to ride that rocket into outer space.

We start, of course, with the Spacemen 3 and their progeny, Spiritualized and Spectrum, who, while they didn't invent it by any means, managed to create the best-ever simulacrum of space rock of the post punk generation: "Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To", although the music is all the drugs one really needs. Going back further, the obvious choice is Pink Floyd, who took us to the dark side of the moon, as well as their peers in the 1970's, the krautrockers, who skewered the po-faced psychedelians with a healthy dose of the absurd (Faust, Amon Duul) and the transcendent (Can, Tangerine Dream).

In the 90's we had a dose of fashionable space rock with the "shoegazers" (My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, Ride, Slowdive), introverted noisemongering British stoodents who worshiped the Velvet Underground and never left home without their fuzz pedals. Throughout the post-rave era a handful of electronic artists, especially those lumped in the unfortunately-monikered IDM (Intelligent Dance Music?!?!? an oxymoron?!?!?) movement, endeavored to "take you there" without a guitar in sight. The new millennium brought us the dreaded journalist's coinage POST ROCK, a meaningless yet somewhat apt classification to describe new instrumental music (from Tortoise to Mogwai to Godspeed You! Black Emperor) whose sole similarity is a complete lack of concern for the pop charts, as was true with their predecessors. And of course, experiMENTAL music has always been around - say no more!

All in all, it's all SPACE ROCK. Here's a snippet, a taste, a wholly inadequate 2-hour representation of where space rock came from, and where it's going. It's only the tip of a vast iceberg, as subsequent episodes of the Spacerock Continuum will illustrate. But it gives this silly podcast some sorely needed CONTEXT, in case there was any confusion. Enjoy!

The following tracks should appear in the player below:

Revolution - Spacemen 3 - Playing With Fire
If I Were With Her Now - Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies
A Housewife Love Song - Starflyer 59 - Gold
Tall Winds - Paik - The Orson Fader
Sad and Lonely - Secret Machines- Now Here Is Nowhere
Young Men Dead - The Black Angels - Passover
Interstellar Overdrive - Pink Floyd - Relics
Run Run Run - The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico
We Ask You To Ride - Wooden Shjips - s/t
The Chocolate Maiden's Misty Summer Morning - Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound - Ekranoplan
Oh Yeah - Can - Tago Mago
Christmas Steps - Mogwai - Come On Die Young
Over The Wall - Echo and the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
Rave Down - Swervedriver - Raise
Soon - My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Le'espalace - Do Make Say Think - s/t
Belgian Wake-Up Drill - Grails - Black Tar Prophecies
One Million-Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning - The Flaming Lips - Oh My Gawd!
Arctic - Pan Sonic - Kesto