NASA – ‘The Spirit of Apollo’
June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Published: Music Australia Guide # 63, 2009.
The Spirit of Apollo
The Spirit of Apollo is a melangé. It is a traversal, a trip, a seamless mash-up of styles, inclinations and collaborations. It is a place where Chali 2na and Chuck D spit verse with David Byrne, where the RZA explodes over a John Frusciante guitar line, where Tom Waits and Kool Keith trade gruff, surrealist wordplays. It is where Kanye, MIA and Santi Gold rub shoulders with George Clinton, Karen O and Ghostface Killah. And, it’s remarkable. The central players are NASA – the luminary production pair of Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon – and over 17 tracks, they unite psychedelic pop with dancehall, hip hop with rock, funk carioca with propulsive African rhythmic patterns. But this is anything but a loose-ended mix tape, and despite a high-profile vocal roster, celebrity has nothing to do with these cuts. The Spirit of Apollo’s masterstroke is a consummate curatorship and vision. The vocalists are there for the beats: not the other way around. Money sees David Byrne float atop liquid hand-percussion before Ras Congo and Chuck D trade explosive verses, while Karen O offers up a drunk yodel with Fatlip on Strange Enough. Elsewhere, Tom Waits and Kool Keith ply some brilliant, growling craziness to the skewed soul of Spacious Thoughts, while Ghostface Killah spits a roaring verse over the rugged The Mayor. It’s brilliant. NASA have stirred up a borderless sonic brew, bound by no genre. This is vital, triumphant stuff.