We posted the ambitious video a while back for Public Service Broadcasting‘s “Gagarin”, which was the lead single from the new space-themed album, The Race For Space. After having a listen to the album streaming over at NPR, one thing is certain – Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq. and Mr. Wrigglesworth can definitely create emotional scores set to historical events from our past.
Although The Race for Space is less guitar and percussion driven compared to 2013’s Inform -Educate – Entertain, it is appropriately based on the content. The Race For Space starts with the title track, which includes an almost gospel-esque background score while John F. Kennedy, Jr’s famous 1962 speech is played regarding the actual race to get to the moon before the USSR.
“Sputnik” is a synth-driven track, which, of course, shares both Russian, English and American voices speaking about the satellite Sputnik that was successfully launched on Oct. 4, 1957, and the track includes actual blips from the satellite.
“Gagarin” has the fullest sound on the album and is a standout track with its funky retro vibe and a video which includes break-dancing astronauts. “Gagarin” pays homage to Russian Yuri Gagarin, who was the first man into space.
“Fire in the Cockpit” is a somber and emotional track with minimal composition that chronicles the deaths of three American astronauts who lost their lives in a fire during a launch simulation with Apollo 1.
“E.V.A.” is the most guitar-driven track on the album. The song speaks to the first man to walk in space, Alexei Leonov, which is considered an “Extra Vehicular Activity”, or E.V.A.
We also shared “The Other Side” in our weekend playlist a few weeks ago, and the track probably elicits the most emotional reaction on the album with palpable anxiety produced through music when Apollo 8 orbited the moon and lost contact with mission control. The score is almost non-existent when everyone in Houston is waiting for Apollo 8 to check in, and fittingly the song erupts back into a crescendo with jubilant cheers after mission control and Apollo 8 have reconnected.
“Valentina” is a quite beautiful track for the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. There are lovely guest vocals from Smoke Fairies and an overall feminine tone for this homage to Tereshkova.
“Go” is a smart synth- and guitar-driven track which focuses on Apollo 11’s successful moon landing, which fittingly includes Armstrong’s famous words “The Eagle has Landed”.
The closer is the track “Tomorrow”, a hopeful track with samples from Gene Cernan’s speech from Apollo 17. The song then fades to silence, which might be because that was the very last mission to the moon. Maybe the reprise of beautiful but quiet instrumentation towards the end is a non-verbal statement that we, as humans, should go back – if not to the moon, elsewhere. It seems after the USA accomplished what they wanted, space exploration, aside from the Hubble telescope or trips to ISS, have definitely receded.
With the release of The Race for Space, Public Service Broadcasting just completed their first themed album and succeeded in bringing important historical events to the forefront. The album also re-introduces their blend of music, storytelling and entertainment to a much larger audience than their humble but ambitious beginnings of The War Room.
2013’s Inform – Educate – Entertain is somewhat of a mission statement for the duo because they are doing each of those three things – they are bringing past historical events to light which educate some that might not be familiar, and, if you have ever seen one of their live sets, they definitely entertain as well. Currently there are no other artists out there that are doing anything similar to what PSB is doing, and it is part performance art, part genius. It will be interesting to see what other topics Public Service Broadcasting will end up tackling in the future.
The Race For Space is available February 24, 2015 on iTunes.
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