Space rock

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Space rock is a rock music genre characterized by loose and lengthy song structures centred on instrumental textures that typically produce a hypnotic, otherworldly sound. [1] It may feature distorted and reverberation-laden guitars, minimal drumming, languid vocals, synthesizers and lyrical themes of outer space and science fiction.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

In music, texture is how the tempo, melodic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, thus determining the overall quality of the sound in a piece. Texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width, between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices. For example, a thick texture contains many 'layers' of instruments. One of these layers could be a string section, or another brass. The thickness also is changed by the amount and the richness of the instruments playing the piece. The thickness varies from light to thick. A piece's texture may be changed by the number and character of parts playing at once, the timbre of the instruments or voices playing these parts and the harmony, tempo, and rhythms used. The types categorized by number and relationship of parts are analyzed and determined through the labeling of primary textural elements: primary melody (PM), secondary melody (SM), parallel supporting melody (PSM), static support (SS), harmonic support (HS), rhythmic support (RS), and harmonic and rhythmic support (HRS).

Distortion (music) form of audio signal processing giving "fuzzy" sound

Distortion and overdrive are forms of audio signal processing used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments, usually by increasing their gain, producing a "fuzzy", "growling", or "gritty" tone. Distortion is most commonly used with the electric guitar, but may also be used with other electric instruments such as bass guitar, electric piano, and Hammond organ. Guitarists playing electric blues originally obtained an overdriven sound by turning up their vacuum tube-powered guitar amplifiers to high volumes, which caused the signal to distort. While overdriven tube amps are still used to obtain overdrive in the 2010s, especially in genres like blues and rockabilly, a number of other ways to produce distortion have been developed since the 1960s, such as distortion effect pedals. The growling tone of distorted electric guitar is a key part of many genres, including blues and many rock music genres, notably hard rock, punk rock, hardcore punk, acid rock, and heavy metal music.

Contents

The genre emerged in late 1960s psychedelia and progressive rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, [1] and Gong [2] who explored a "cosmic" sound. A new generation of alternative/indie bands drew on psychedelic rock, ambient music, experimental/avant-garde music, krautrock, classical minimalism, and noise pop. This later style was pioneered in the mid-1980s by Spacemen 3, whose "drone-heavy" sound was avowedly inspired by and intended to accommodate drug use. By the 1990s, space rock developed into shoegazing and post-rock [1] with bands such as Failure, Hum, Flying Saucer Attack, and Orange Goblin.

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid- to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening rather than dancing.

Pink Floyd English rock band

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Distinguished by their philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions, and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history.

Hawkwind English rock band

Hawkwind are an English rock band and one of the earliest space rock groups. Formed in November 1969, Hawkwind have gone through many incarnations and they have incorporated different styles into their music, including hard rock, progressive rock and psychedelic rock. They are also regarded as an influential proto-punk band. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes.

History

Origins and emergence

Man's entry into outer space provided ample subject matter for rock and roll and R&B songs from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s. It also inspired new sounds and sound effects to be used in the music itself. A prominent early example of space rock is the 1959 concept album I Hear a New World by British producer and songwriter Joe Meek. The album was inspired by the space race and concerned man's first close encounter with alien life forms. [3] Meek then went on to have a UK and US No 1 success in 1961 with "Telstar", named after the newly launched communications satellite and thus intended to commemorate the new space age. Its main instrument was a clavioline, an electronic forerunner of synthesizers.

Outer space Void between celestial bodies

Outer space, or simply space, is the expanse that exists beyond the Earth and between celestial bodies. Outer space is not completely empty—it is a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles, predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, neutrinos, dust, and cosmic rays. The baseline temperature of outer space, as set by the background radiation from the Big Bang, is 2.7 kelvins. The plasma between galaxies accounts for about half of the baryonic (ordinary) matter in the universe; it has a number density of less than one hydrogen atom per cubic metre and a temperature of millions of kelvins; local concentrations of this plasma have condensed into stars and galaxies. Studies indicate that 90% of the mass in most galaxies is in an unknown form, called dark matter, which interacts with other matter through gravitational but not electromagnetic forces. Observations suggest that the majority of the mass-energy in the observable universe is dark energy, a type of vacuum energy that is poorly understood. Intergalactic space takes up most of the volume of the universe, but even galaxies and star systems consist almost entirely of empty space.

Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

<i>I Hear a New World</i> album by Joe Meek

I Hear a New World is a studio concept album written and produced by Joe Meek with the Blue Men, partially released as an EP in 1960. In 1991, the full LP was issued by RPM Records. In 1998, The Wire listed the album as one of "100 Records that Set the World on Fire ".

Space rock emerged from the late 1960s psychedelic music scene in Britain, and was closely associated with the progressive rock movement of the same era.

Pink Floyd's early albums contain pioneering examples of space rock: "Lucifer Sam", [4] "Astronomy Domine", [5] "Pow R. Toc H." [6] and "Interstellar Overdrive" [7] from their 1967 debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn are examples. Their second album A Saucerful of Secrets contained further examples: "Let There Be More Light" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" with explicit science fiction themes, and their third, More (1969) had "Cirrus Minor". In early 1971, Pink Floyd began writing the song that would become known as "Echoes", from the 1971 album Meddle . The song was performed from April until September 1971, with an alternative set of lyrics, written about two planets meeting in space. Before the Meddle album released, the lyrics were changed to an aquatic theme, because of the band's concern that they were being labelled as a space rock band.

"Lucifer Sam" is a song by British band Pink Floyd, featured on their 1967 debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

"Astronomy Domine" is a song by English rock band Pink Floyd. The song, written and composed by original vocalist/guitarist Syd Barrett, was the first track featured on their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). The lead vocal was sung by Barrett and keyboard player Richard Wright. Its working title was "Astronomy Domine ". "Domine" is a word frequently used in Gregorian chants.

"Pow R. Toc H." is an instrumental, with vocal effects, by Pink Floyd on their 1967 album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. In addition to the vocal effects, the piano is a prominent instrument in the piece.

The Beatles' song "Flying" (1967), originally titled "Aerial Tour Instrumental", was a psychedelic instrumental about the sensation of flying, whether in a craft or in your own head space. [8] Jimi Hendrix is also an early innovator of the genre, with such tracks as "Third Stone from the Sun", "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" and "The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam's Dice". David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (1969) is, apart from "Telstar", probably the best example of a space rock song achieving mainstream recognition.[ citation needed ]

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led them to be regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and they experimented with a number of musical styles in later years, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.

Jimi Hendrix American guitarist, singer and songwriter

James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His mainstream career lasted only four years, but he is widely regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in history and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".

"Third Stone from the Sun" is a mostly instrumental composition by American musician Jimi Hendrix. It incorporates several musical approaches, including jazz and psychedelic rock, with brief spoken passages. The title reflects Hendrix's interest in science fiction and is a reference to Earth in its position as the third planet away from the sun in the solar system.

A major album in the history of space rock was Hawkwind's Space Ritual (1973), [9] a two-disc live album advertised as "88 minutes of brain-damage" documenting Hawkwind's 1972 tour that included a liquid light show and lasers, nude dancers (notably the earth-mother figure Stacia), wild costumes and psychedelic imagery. This hard-edged concert experience attracted a motley but dedicated collection of psychedelic drug users, science-fiction fans and motorcycle riders. The science fiction author Michael Moorcock collaborated with Hawkwind on many occasions and wrote the lyrics for many of the spoken-word sections on Space Ritual. In Europe, Hungarian band Omega was the biggest space rock band with albums Time Robber (1976), Skyrover (1978), and Gammapolis (1979). Another European band was the German Eloy.

<i>Space Ritual</i> live album

The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London is a 1973 live double album recorded in 1972 by UK rock band Hawkwind. It is their fourth album, reached #9 in the UK album charts and briefly dented the Billboard Top 200, peaking at #179.

Liquid light show

Liquid light shows are a form of light art that surfaced in the early 1960s as accompaniment to electronic music and avant-garde theatre performances. They were later adapted for performances of rock or psychedelic music.

Stacia is an Irish professional visual artist who is also known as the former performance artist/dancer with Hawkwind.

Apart from Hawkwind, Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex probably had the most success with space rock, mainly appearing on album tracks such as "Ballrooms of Mars", "Venus Loon" and "Spaceball Ricochet", although he characterised his music as "cosmic rock" (at the end of his first No 1 hit in the UK - Hot Love). Like Hawkwind's Dave Brock, Bolan used pentatonic guitar progressions to design riffs.

In the 1980s, UK band Mournblade cited in the music press as 'Hawkwind influenced' (sic) blended space rock with a harder, more NWOBHM edge and linked into the emerging 'grebo revival' scene of the late 1980s.

1990s revival

Shoegazing, stoner rock/metal and noise pop genres emerged into the mainstream with the explosion of bands such as Kyuss, Monster Magnet, the Desert Sessions, Slowdive, the Verve, My Bloody Valentine, Flying Saucer Attack, Loop, Ride, Shiner, the Flaming Lips, Failure, Year of the Rabbit, Cave In, Sun Dial, Hum, Orange Goblin, Porcupine Tree, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, and Mercury Rev. The sonic experimentation and emphasis placed on texture by these bands led them to be dubbed "space rock".

In the mid-1990s, a number of bands built on the space rock styles of Hawkwind and Gong appeared in America. Some of these bands were signed to Cleopatra records, which then proceeded to release numerous space rock compilations. Starting in 1997, Daevid Allen of Gong, along with members of Hawkwind and other space rock bands, started to perform with Spirits Burning, a studio project created to celebrate space rock.

The Strange Daze festivals from 1997 to 2001 showcased the American space rock scene in three-day outdoor festivals. A Michigan-based space rock scene included Burnt Hair Records, Darla Records, and bands such as Windy & Carl, Mahogany, Sweet Trip, Füxa and Auburn Lull. This was a modern movement of the traditional "space rock" sound and was pinned Detroit Space Rock.

French band Air released albums Moon Safari and Le voyage dans la lune .

21st century

In 2009 an off-duty NASA worker from the shuttle program synchronised footage of a Discovery launch with the Flowers Of Hell's "Sympathy For Vengeance" in an online video which became popular amongst staff at the Kennedy Space Center. [10] [11]

The band Starset includes space related themes released in their debut album Transmissions in 2014 which featured samples such as radio communications between ground control and astronauts, the Doppler Effect, and even the exploration of space by Dr Edwin P. Hubble. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Nick Masons Saucerful of Secrets

Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets are an English psychedelic rock band formed in 2018 by drummer Nick Mason and guitarist Lee Harris to perform the early music of Mason’s band Pink Floyd. The band includes Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet on guitars and vocals, longtime Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt on bass and vocals, and Lee Harris on guitar and backing vocals. Mason said the group were not a tribute band, but wanted to "capture the spirit" of the era, and stressed that Kemp was not a replacement for original Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Staff. "Space rock". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  2. Chris Nickson. "Shapeshifter". AllMusic . Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  3. Joe Meek: The RGM Legacy Archived October 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  4. A.Robbins "The Trouser Press record guide" (Collier Books, 1991), ISBN   0-02-036361-3
  5. Bruce Eder, Astronomy Domine song review, AllMusic
  6. Nicholas Schaffner, "Saucerful of secrets: the Pink Floyd odyssey", (Dell, 1992), ISBN   0-385-30684-9, p.66.
  7. Richie Unterberger, Interstellar Overdrive song review, AllMusic
  8. AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
  9. Wilson Neate, Space Ritual review, AllMusic
  10. The Flowers of Hell blast off [ permanent dead link ]
  11. Archive of Sympathy for Vengeance + Space Shuttle Discovery mashup [ dead link ]
  12. Harvard.edu