It may have been half a JFK’s Space Race Inspires A Music Album space race between Russia and the USA, but that hasn’t deterred a band called Public Service Broadcasting.
This musical duo create their musical pieces to explore history, discovery and science through the use of vintage documentary samples and traditional instruments, used to impressive effect.
Their latest album, entitled The Race For Space has used transmissions relating to the original Apollo missions as well as Soviet vintage documentaries to recount the tale of space travel during the 1960s.
The Race For Space
The first track of the album is the title track and utilizes JFK’s public speech from 1964 during which he promised that an American would land on the moon before the decade came to an end.
This inspirational speech sets the tone for the album.
The second track, entitled “Sputnik” takes a look at the Soviet Union’s successful launch of the first artificial satellite in the world in the late 1950s.
This song has quite a malevolent tone, reflecting the unease of the Americans at the Russian visitor over their country.
A Lighter Tone
Although the Space Race isn’t an especially light topic to cover, the third track on the album, entitled Gagarin, has quite an upbeat tone.
It has been created to be a celebratory song, commemorating Gagarin’s success in becoming the first human to have left Planet Earth.
The tune is exultant and euphoric, capturing the scenes seen when he came back down to Earth.
The band were keen to reflect Gagarin’s outgoing, cheerful personality, and they have done this through this happy and fun track.
Tragedy In The Cockpit
The fourth album track took its inspiration from the tragedy of January 1967 – the fire which killed the Apollo 1 crew during on-ground testing.
The band shied away from using the cockpit audio but instead utilized statements from NASA which were read on the radio and television at that time.
Although the song handles tragic material, it hasn’t been written to be heart-wrenching. It has an unsettling feel, but that’s deliberate.
This track was created to emphasize the fact that space exploration may have had its victories, but it also had its dangers.
In 1965, Alexei Leonov carried out the first Spacewalk and track six, E.V.A, turns the tragic notes of the album around with relentless pace.
The band refused to acknowledge this event as a glorious achievement, focusing instead on the fact that the mission went wrong and almost ended in disaster.
This is a little known fact which barely made the history books. The speedy pace continues in track seven, The Other Side.
This song centers around Apollo 8 and its historic flight around the moon.
The transmission used here is the one where contact is lost as the craft passes around the moon’s other side.
The picture painted by this track is a vivid one. The flight controller’s voice declaring “we’ve got it, we’ve got it” is an outstandingly euphoric moment which stands out on this album.
Concluding The Album
The final three tracks on the album each have something unique to offer. Valentina celebrates the achievement of the first woman ever to go into space.
Russian Valentina Tereshkova’s own voice may not appear on this track, but the Smoke Fairies collaborated with the band on this brilliant track.
The penultimate track is Go! Commemorating Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.
Rather than focusing on the two men, however, this song actually focuses on the mission control center.
The point of the track is to express the achievements of the people who worked behind the scenes to accomplish this historic moment.
The final track, Tomorrow, brings the album to a melancholy conclusion.
It’s depressing notes signal that the space race came to an end, and the drive to explore strange new worlds seems to have fallen by the wayside.
It’s a fascinating album, not only for music lovers, but for anyone with an interest in cosmonauts, the space race and the history of the space program.
We recommend you use modern HiFi (as they might have said back in the days of the space race!) and listen to it today!