Public Service Broadcasting are an electronic and acoustic duo, ‘on a mission to entertain and educate’. By combining the original recordings of speeches and commentaries with different musical settings they create a variety of involving and atmospheric pieces. Careful crafting of the voices meld perfectly with the sentiments of the added music. It is not the normal expectation that a song will inform you of historical or cultural events, but here we get the full rundown of the competition in the 1960s and 70s between Russia and America to get people into space and on the Moon.
The prologue is John F. Kennedy’s stirring 1962 speech setting out plans for the future Moon landings over a background of ethereal voices, then the electronic pulsing of ‘Sputnik’ evokes the worldwide excitement of the first satellite. ‘Gagarin’ is a lively brass-funk workout, released as a single, then the optimistic mood is brought down with ‘Fire In The Cockpit’ reminding us of the fatal dangers always present in the early days of space. ‘The Other Side’ is brooding and tense electronica with commentaries from the Apollo 8 mission into lunar orbit. ‘Valentina’ commemorates the first woman in space with gentle strings and acoustic guitar and the heavenly floating vocals of Smoke Fairies, who will be accompanying PSB on their upcoming tour.
At last it is ‘Go!’, building genuine excitement in music and words as Apollo 11 finally lands on the Moon. ‘Tomorrow’ uses a looser structure to end the album on a speculative note, finally playing out with layers of keyboard, drifting off into space of course (a nod to the end of Holst’s Planets Suite?)
In concert they combine the sampled audio with live playing and visuals, I am looking forward to it…..