Friday, May 22, 2009

I approve

I don't usually like such lists, but the Underwire blog at picked five albums for blasting into space. This would be close to my own list, if I were to undertake such a task. I'm most surprised by the DJ Shadow, which I don't see as being as visible on the radar (DJ Shadow, by the way, started in college radio at UC Davis). These are all favorites of my mine, reflecting a range of pop music that swings from late behop and trip hop to punk, shoegaze and prog rock. I must like "space" music!

Pixies, Doolittle
If Korpa’s going to nostalgically rifle through his record crates, he might as well pick what is arguably the best ’80s album from a group that many artists, from that decade and those that came after, consider to be the best band of the era. Stacked with short, sharp pop shocks, Doolittle starts fast with the surrealist anthem “Debaser” and doesn’t let up until the western noir of “Silver,” before crashing to a close with “Gouge Away.” It’s a bracing blast, especially if you need to stay awake in space. The enviro head-trip “Monkey Gone to Heaven” alone might be worth the ride.

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
Speaking of the late ’80s and early ’90s, this seminal effort — and band — inspired the term “shoegaze,” a misnomer for mesmerizing rock music that pushes the envelope. Whether it’s the straight-ahead fuzz of “When You Sleep” or the underwater distortion of the serenade “Sometimes,” My Bloody Valentine’s last full-length record is well worth the extra fuel need to get it beyond Earth’s atmosphere. To hear it in space, to get redundant, would be out of this world.

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon
A no-brainer; it’s all there in the title. But it’s also there in the suggestive grooves: the kinetic synths of “On the Run,” the grinding rock of “Time” and “Money,” the ethereal gospel of “The Great Gig in the Sky.” You can’t go wrong. There are even a couple tunes about going insane, for those who succumb to space madness.

DJ Shadow, Entroducing
If you can find a more stone-cold set of instrumentals made for interstellar travel, do share. Entroducing is the first musical effort built entirely of samples, which means it’s the perfect sonic soundtrack for boldly going where only a few have gone before. If you want to get culture, pop and otherwise, DJ Shadow’s stunning debut is a go-to spacewalk. The beat palette is deeper than a black hole, and everything from Altered States to Twin Peaks gets mashed into the turntables. You can even train on Earth: Load it up, close your eyes and let it flow. You never know what you might see.

Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool
Jazz and space go hand in hand: Voyager’s Golden Record featured Louis Armstrong’s “Melancholy Blues,” among other standouts. But which jazz works best for astronauts? Charles Mingus seems a shoo-in, but his combo’s eruptions might prove too challenging for a weightless environment. Coltrane, Parker, Sun Ra … where to turn? Perhaps stick with Miles Davis’ classic Birth of the Cool until everyone can agree on something. These legendary sessions marked bebop’s evolution into the ’50s, and inspired a whole new school of cool. Its breezy hypnotics are perfect for the hypoxia of space.

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