Album Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

Public Service Broadcasting‘s previous releases have been based on, strangely enough, old public service broadcasts; mainly British wartime broadcasts.

The Race For Space puts a soundtrack to the 1960s & 70s space race heyday using broadcasts from the time.  All the major firsts are covered – first launch, first man in space, first woman in space, space walk, lunar orbit and lunar landing. The soundtrack is largely electronic with virtually no vocals other than the broadcasts themselves.

The tracks are in chronological order starting off with The Race For Space, which takes JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech and puts it to a heavenly chorus that sounds like the voice of space itself. Sputnik is next, with a hypnotic electronic beat and synths which build and build to a crescendo, adding in layers of sound and crashing drums along the way.

The first single from the album, Gargarin, sounds slightly out of place, with its funky guitar and brass. As a standalone track it worked well, but it disturbs the mood of the album somewhat, in particular because the following track Fire In The Cockpit is a very sombre affair which covers the Apollo 1 fire which killed three astronauts.

Right in the middle of the album are two tracks which perfectly capture the mood of the events they recount – E.V.A. which covers the first man to walk in space, and The Other Side, about the first manned lunar orbit. You can feel the tension and then the joy as each mission is successful.

Valentina is clearly about the first woman in space, but is the only track that doesn’t use any broadcasts from the event. Instead it is a largely instrumental guitar track, with the only vocal being an evolving chorus of the name ‘Valentina’.

The album ends on two tracks which cover the lunar landings. Go! cleverly focus on the landing, rather than the first moon walk, and Tomorrow completes the race for space with the final departure from the moon by the Apollo 17 mission.

So, an early contender for album of 2015, and even if electronic music is not your thing, it’s at least a good history lesson.

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