Calibro 35 – S.P.A.C.E. (2015)

Calibro 35 - S.P.A.C.E. (2015)
Artist: Calibro 35
Album: S.P.A.C.E.
Genre: Jazz, Funk, Soul
Label: Record Kicks
Released: 2015
Quality: FLAC (tracks)
Tracklist:
74 Days After Landing 01:59
S.P.A.C.E. 03:49
Bandits on Mars 03:16
Brain Trap 01:00
Ungwana Bay Launch Complex 04:09
An Asteroid Called Death 04:25
Thrust Force 03:58
A Future We Never Lived 03:01
Universe of 10 Dimensions 06:04
Across 111th Sun 03:11
Something Happened on Planet Earth 04:44
Violent Venus 02:51
Neptune 00:26
Serenade for a satellite 02:52

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I like outer space a lot. Partly because I live in a place where it’s so dreary and overcast I so rarely get to see it, but mostly because I’ve been brought up with such a romanticised view of it that it’s a difficult love to get rid of – I first saw Saturn’s rings a couple of years ago through a telescope in my garden in the middle of the night and that blurry spectacle will live with me forever, and watching the International Space Station zip by in the evenings will always be a pleasure of mine.

A lot of the mystique and allure surrounding the celestial abode however comes from a time when the Cold War was geared towards something a bit more positive than what the two sides were getting on with down here on Earth – the Space Race remains a fascinating tale of one-upmanship and endeavour where both sets of opponents came away with their own victories, and it’s this era that Italian band Calibro 35 have decided to visit.

This record is something of a departure for this outfit as they have made their name in the Crimefunk genre (something that they have made pretty much their own), so a couple of adjustments have been made to set the controls away from 1970s heist and car chase soundtracking for something a bit more stellar. With S.P.A.C.E, it effortlessly sounds as though this is all they’ve ever done, with one eye remaining on funky genre-referencing but the other gazing far beyond that.

At the very beginning of the album, 74 Days After Landing arrives with a sense of loneliness and paranoia , a persistent beat interspersed with electronic reports to suggest that this is going to be something very different indeed. Fans needn’t be concerned though, as the title track that follows is pure Calibro 35 funky, fast-paced fun that any late 1960s fast-paced TV show would be proud to call its own. Bandits On Mars is more of the same, but there’s something in the keyboards to suggest that someone’s found all the buttons marked “vintage space noises” and has taped them all down, much to the joy of all concerned.

After that, it all goes rather odd as Brain Trap is another percussive, stabby affair that brings to mind the Jerry Goldsmith score to Planet Of the Apes fed through a room-sized computer. Indeed, percussion is something of a key element to S.P.A.C.E. as time signatures of the more off-the-wall seem to appear from received signals rather than anything Earthbound, and the band absorb and adapt these eats to their own ends with infectiously groovy aplomb. This continues into the curious An Asteroid Called Death, where’70s Italo-prog meets debut-album Pink Floyd which manages to both delight and confuse (especially the middle “…what?” bit where the latter is concerned) in equal measure.

Where Calibro 35 are funky here, they’re unbeatable. When they step out of their own comfort zone, they’re utterly fascinating. The record’s Side 2 is worthy of mention as a single entity as, noisy floor-filler Violent Venus aside, it’s a singular cosmic jazz affair that is best listened to in a suitably darkened environment, preferably looking upwards. By the time that Serenade For a Satellite has suddenly faded out and is on its way to who knows where, the listener has been taken on the strangest, funkiest (naturally) and most incredible journey, one that mixes jazz, soul, psychedelia and Gustav Holst (in the form of a snippet of Neptune, a gem from his Planet suite that is usually overlooked but which has probably influenced every sci-fi soundtrack in existence) to leave anyone listening in wondering what on Earth (or elsewhere) has just happened.

S.P.A.C.E. is an album that pushes its creators’ boundaries way beyond anywhere they’ve explored before while retaining the beating heart that makes them so exciting to listen to in the first place. Their star shines bright and strangely, and I love them for it.
by Si Forster

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