Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Review: N.A.S.A. - The Spirit of Apollo

Some albums are meant to be groundbreaking, other groundbreakings are meant to be albums. N.A.S.A.'s album "The Spirit of Apollo" is somewhere in between, released as an album, which can hardly hold up its shaky structure and the spectacular 40-something guest performances. Yep, you've read it right! The album's 17-track list contains more than 40 appearances by other musicians. Although stylistically "The Spirit of Apollo" is placed in the hip-hop niché, it hardly fits any strict boundaries of genre.

N.A.S.A. which stands for North America / South America is a DJ collaborative project, consisting of Ze Gonazales (DJ Zegon) and Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean), who started spent the last five years experimenting with music before they came up with the idea of recording an album, which will feature as many as possible favourite singers...thus "The Spirit of Apollo" was born. It all would have been great if the guest performances were not three or more in a single song. The whole album sounds so cramped that at a certain point you just can't decide whether a new song has started or it's just another guest on this very track.

Several of the collaborations are pretty bad, especially those featuring David Byrne from Talking Heads and Tom Waits...despite all the efforts the songs are waste of time and talent. Others manage to fit quite well, among which Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lykke Li, although their presence is in no way compelling or adequate. The main thread throughout the album is the inadequacy of guest performances, the unusual combination of alternative with hip-hop, or the constant change of pace and beat. "The Spirit of Apollo" is more of a show-off of the extensive buddy list that N.A.S.A has than the mere act of creating an elaborate compilation of vocals and music coming from various backgrounds.

I should complement the electronic duo for the idea to bring M.I.A. and Santigold together in a song, although the final product can hardly pass for a proper collaboration between the two. The presence of Lovefoxxx from Cansei de Ser Sexy is more than mediocre, repeating a few words throughout the whole song. Similar is the performance of Karen O, who is given the chorus, which consists of maximum two sentences. After all when you have a gazillion of guests most of them get a rather lame part, narrowed down to mumbling several words. Definitely the stylistic core of "The Spirit of Apollo" is hip-hop music, but when you invite performers from other genres you have to find the acceptable balance. N.A.S.A. didn't get it right...this time.

Songs to hear: "Money", "Gifted", "Wachadoin?", "Strange Enough" and "Spacious Thoughts"

Personal rating: 5 out of 10