N.A.S.A.: The Big Bang


RIYL: Gorillaz, Afrika Bambaataa, The Neptunes

N.A.S.A.’s 2009 debut, The Spirit of Apollo, was one of the freshest, most creative hip-hop records to come out in years, a high-proof blend of booty-shaking beats (courtesy of partners DJ Zegon and Sam Spiegel), dizzying rhymes (from an astounding list of guest MCs that included Kanye West, Chuck D, Chali 2na, Gift of Gab, and Del tha Funkee Homosapien), and sharp pop hooks (with help from guests like David Byrne, Tom Waits, Lykke Li, Karen O, Santigold, M.I.A., and George Clinton). Those are some stuffed parentheses, but they only touch the surface of what Apollo has to offer; in the post-mashup era, it illuminates the fertile possibilities of cross-pollination and a healthy disregard for genre boundaries.

It’s therefore unsurprising – though still disappointing – that N.A.S.A.’s follow-up represents such a substantial comedown. The Big Bang is a remix project, and as such, it presented all kinds of strong possibilities; after all, we’re talking about a subgenre whose best-selling titles include Bobby Brown’s Dance!…Ya Know It! and Paula Abdul’s Shut Up and Dance, so the bar is set pretty low. Unfortunately, although The Big Bang is every bit as danceable as anyone could hope, it’s crippled by a narrow focus: Rather than remixing all (or even most) of Apollo, Bang‘s 17 tracks include four versions of “Gifted” and three of “Whachadoin?” – and it completely skips some of Apollo‘s strongest songs, like the David Byrne/Chali 2na/Gift of Gab collision “The People Tree.”

Still, it’s worth noting that all the songs being remixed here are solid; if you’re going to chew up most of an album with different versions of the same stuff, it’s definitely better to start with strong raw material. And of the two new tracks, the Maximum Hedrum/Barbie Hatch collaboration “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” with its breathy vocals and Tom Tom Club synths, is nearly worth the price of admission by itself. During the lead-up to The Big Bang‘s release, Squeak E. Clean has been in Ethiopia, recording traditional music for the next N.A.S.A. project, which suggests that even if this curious piece of between-album project represents a creative lull, they haven’t run out of barriers to ignore. (Spectrophonic Sound 2010)

N.A.S.A. MySpace page

  

Seen Your Video: Flaming Lips, “I Can Be a Frog”

Four words and one letter: Karen O in a bikini. Enjoy!

The Flaming Lips “I Can Be A Frog”

  

New song from “Where the Wild Things Are” soundtrack

Wild

By now, everyone has heard of Spke Jonez’s upcoming film, Where the Wild Things Are. The movie, which comes out October 18th, was adapted from Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book. Anyway, Karen O (of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s fame) has assembled a group of musicians, dubbed “The Kids” to help her compose the soundtrack. Taken from the soundtrack’s Myspace,

these include Tristan Bechet (Services), Tom Biller (co-producer with Karen O and member of Afternoons), Bradford Cox (Deerhunter), Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs), Aaron Hemphill (Liars), Greg Kurstin (The Bird and the Bee), Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes), Oscar Michel (Gris Gris), Imaad Wasif (New Folk Implosion, Alaska), Nick Zinner, (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and an untrained children’s choir.

I’m most interested in that children’s choir. I think it will add the perfect touch to the innocence and wonder showcased in the book. Be sure to check out that Myspace to hear the first single, “All Is Love.” The album will officially hit stores on September 29th.

Click below to see footage from some Karen O performances.


Read the rest after the jump...

Related Posts