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Space rock
Stylistic origins Progressive rock, psychedelic rock, experimental rock, electronic music
Cultural origins Late 1960s, England
Typical instruments guitar, synthesiser, bass guitar, drums, vocals
Mainstream popularity Limited to a few groups as a specific genre, but often associated with more popular genres
Derivative forms Noise pop
Subgenres
Neo-psychedelia, post-rock, shoegazing
(complete list)
Fusion genres
Dream pop, stoner rock, ambient music
Other topics
Jam band

Space rock is a subgenre of rock music; the term originally referred to a group of early, mostly British 1970s progressive rock and psychedelic, bands such as Hawkwind and Pink Floyd,[1] characterised by slow, lengthy instrumental passages dominated by synthesizers, experimental guitar work and science fiction lyrical themes, though it was later repurposed to refer to a series of late 1980s British alternative rock bands that drew from earlier influences to create a more melodic but still ambient form of pop music.[2] The term was revived in the 21st century to refer to a new crop of bands including the Flowers of Hell,[3] Comets on Fire,[4] and Flotation Toy Warning [5] who diversely draw upon the ideas and sounds of both waves of the genre’s founders.

Contents

History

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Emergence

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

The earliest example of Space Rock is the 1959 concept album I Hear a New World by British producer and song writer Joe Meek. The album was inspired by the space race and concerned man's first close encounter with alien life forms.[6]

Pink Floyd's early albums contain pioneering development of space rock on some tracks; "Astronomy Domine" [7] and "Interstellar Overdrive" [8] from their 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, that also manifested itself in so-called Googie architecture. 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 alternate set of lyrics, written about two planets meeting in space. Before the Meddle album released, the lyrics were changed to an aquatic theme, due to the band's concern that they were being labelled as a Space Rock band.

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.[9] The Rolling Stones' song "2000 Light Years from Home" (1967), which drew heavily on some of the aforementioned Pink Floyd songs, is another early form of space rock. 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".

During the middle of the second set of a Grateful Dead concert throughout the late 1970’s to 1990’s, the band would go into a drum solo to a space rock section.

David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (1969) is probably the best example of a space rock song achieving mainstream recognition. A major album in the history of space rock was Hawkwind's Space Ritual (1973),[10] a two-disc live album advertised as "88 minutes of brain-damage" documenting Hawkwind's successful 1972 tour of their blow-out show complete with liquid lights 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: for example, he wrote the lyrics for many of the spoken-word sections on Space Ritual.

1990s revival

By the early 1990s, the term "space rock" came to be used when describing numerous American and British alternative rock bands of the time. Shoegazing, Stoner Rock and noise pop genres emerged into the mainstream with the explosion of bands such as Kyuss, Slowdive, The Verve, My Bloody Valentine, Flying Saucer Attack, Loop, Ride, The Flaming Lips, Failure, Tool, Monster Magnet, Supergrass, Hum, Spacemen 3, Mercury Rev and Modest Mouse. 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 (such as Pressurehed and Melting Euphoria) were signed to Cleopatra records, which then proceeded to release numerous space rock compilations. The Strange Daze festivals from 1997-2000 showcased the American space rock scene in 3 day outdoor festivals. The shows were headlined by Hawkwind and Nik Turner in 1997 and featured major players of American space rock: F/i, Alien Planetscapes, Architectural Metaphor, Quarkspace, Melting Euphoria, Pressurehed, Nucleon, Bionaut, Born to Go and others.

Coming out of the ashes of the Strange Daze Festival is an Ohio based Space Rock band called Secret Saucer. Secret Saucer combines members of Quarkspace and Architectural Metaphor with members who have had affiliations with some of the original space rock bands(such as Hawkwind, Nik Turner and Gong). Secret Saucer continues to release space rock records in the classic sense.

A Michigan based space rock scene included Burnt Hair Records, Darla Records, and bands such as Windy & Carl, Mahogany, Tomorrowland, Delta Waves, Starphase 23, Füxa, Auburn Lull, Monaural, Asha Vida, and Alison's Halo. This was a modern movement of the traditional "space rock" sound and was pinned Detroit Space Rock.

Space rock in the 21st century

Space themes continue to influence and play a part in modern rock music. In the United Kingdom, Radiohead has utilized the genre in recent years along with Oceansize. In the USA, Brave Saint Saturn, The Mars Volta, Mugstar, The Boxing Lesson, and Eleventyseven's newest album Galactic Conquest also show an interest in galactic themes. Australian bands of the genre include Space Project and Lunar Module.

The first reported involvement of NASA and space rock came in 2009 when an off duty 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[3]. Star One's 2002 Space Metal album mixes space rock and progressive metal, and many of the songs are linked conceptually by having cult science fiction movies or TV series as their subjects.

Examples of space rock

Notes


Simple English

Space rock
Stylistic origins Progressive rock, psychedelic rock, electronic music
Cultural origins Late 1960s, England
Typical instruments guitar, synthesiser, bass guitar, drums, vocals
Mainstream popularity Limited to a few groups as a specific genre, but often associated with more popular genres
Derivative forms Noise pop
Subgenres
Neo-psychedelia, post-rock, shoegazing
Fusion genres
Dream pop, stoner rock, ambient music
Other topics
Jam band

Space rock is a subgenre of rock music; the term originally referred to a group of early mostly British 1970s progressive rock and psychedelic bands such as Hawkwind and Pink Floyd,[1] characterised by slow, lengthy instrumental passages dominated by synthesisers, experimental guitar work and science fiction lyrical themes, though it was later repurposed to refer to a series of late 1980s British alternative rock bands that drew from earlier influences to create a more melodic but still ambient form of pop music.[2]

References


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