Spacecraft

Spacecraft is an actual group, an exception in the sub-genre of spacemusic which is usually the preserve of solo composers. What Klaus Schulze, Ashra, Tangerine Dream and other Berlin-school pioneers started in the late 1960's, Spacecraft continued magnificently through the 90's and beyond. The band's love of improvisation produces music that doesn't simply recycle the past; their best albums have a cosmic sound that is at once familiar and fresh.

artist:
Spacecraft

country of origin:
USA

style(s):
Spacemusic, Berlin-school, ambient trance, environmental, contemporary classical

decades active:
90's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Hummel (1998, Lektronic)
  • Earthtime Tapestry (1999, Lektronic)
  • Kaleida Dreams (1999, Space For Music)
  • Summer Town (2001, Space For Music)
  • Cybersphere (2001, Space For Music)

Reviewed by Mike G

Spacecraft is an actual group, an exception in the sub-genre of spacemusic which is usually the preserve of solo composers. What Klaus Schulze, Ashra, Tangerine Dream and other Berlin-school pioneers started in the late 1960's, Spacecraft continued magnificently through the 90's and beyond. The band's love of improvisation produces music that doesn't simply recycle the past; their best albums have a cosmic sound that is at once familiar and fresh. Like fellow American Jonn Serrie, the trio have done planetarium shows and soundtracks, but airy, minimal drone music ala Serrie is not their defining style. In fact Spacecraft's sound is a more intricate, denser style of spacemusic than nearly all of their peers, past and present.

The band was formed after friends Tony Gerber and John Rose (later joined by Dianne Timmons to make a trio) listened to "sound mappings" collected from the Voyager space probes. Intrigued as to its deeper meanings and musical potential, they used this data as the genetic code to create banks of new sounds and samples on their digital synths. Blending these sounds with some classic analogue e-instruments and leaning towards an improvised approach, Spacecraft was born.

The five albums listed above are all first-rate and comprise the bulk of the band's discography; few new albums have appeared since the early 2000's.

Earthtime Tapestry (1999), Kaleida Dreams (1999) and Cybersphere (2001) offer the music in bite-size pieces with tracks averaging five to six minutes in length. Live percussion, processed guitars and Timmons' choral-like vocals add variety but even without these elements Spacecraft's sonic range is extraordinarily wide for an e-music group and the flow of each album is ever-changing. This eclecticism is undoubtedly due partly to Gerber and Rose's extensive solo careers pre-dating Spacecraft and their experience across a range of genres going back to the 1970's. Regular guest synthesist Giles Reaves also makes significant contributions on these albums.

The live recordings Hummel (1988) and Summer Town (2001) are mostly beatless and capture the band at its most subtle. Hummel recalls the quieter moments of the Berlin-school ambient legends and it's done with tremendous style. Timmon's wordless vocals take on the quality of a boy soprano, adding a strong sacred music dimension. Summer Town consists of a single extended track and is the band's most meditative album, drifting from one phase to the next with a lunar grace that makes for exquisite late-night or early-morning listening.

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