Space Rock

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As human consciousness must inevitably expand in new and dramatic ways as our species makes the leap into the interstellar void, we must also have forms of art and music which will precede and mark the way for this leap.

Electronic music has been alive and well for almost half a century, and has made many interesting hybrids with rock music. The most important, and by far the most interesting, is Space Rock.
Space Rock is the future of both rock and electronic music. While it is popular among the youth of this planet, it is by no means restricted to them. It is music for beings who enjoy looking forward. It was born in the 1960s as an offshoot of psychedelia with a reflective, somewhat tranquil bent. However, even this definition limits the full scope of space rock. Space rock is simply cosmic music. For every band which captures the stillness of space, there is another which personifies the violence of a supernova. Both approaches are necessary and welcome. The few bands presented here will give an overview of several notable space rock icons, but this list is by no means complete. Space rock is not a genre, it is a spirit within one's music. From Berlioz to Barry White, elements of celestial music have been popping up throughout music history. Perhaps all music is leading up to Space.

Pink Floyd

Arguably the most influential and popular space rock band is the 1960s-1970s British band Pink Floyd. While much of their work, especially in recent years, has not been a particularly good example of space rock, Pink Floyd brought space to the masses, and much of their work blazed many new frontiers in the tasteful and effective merging of mainstream rock and avant-garde electronic sound effects. Syd Barrett, the original leader of Pink Floyd, may have written the two most recognizable space-rock songs in 1968, with "Astronomy Domine," and "Interstellar Overdrive."


Of course, no discussion of space rock would be complete without a mention of Hawkwind. Formed in 1969 as "Hawkwind Zoo," by Dave Brock, Nik Turner, and other iconoclastic musicians, Hawkwind was to become the definitive space rock band with its heavy, pounding rhythm guitar and ethereal synthesizers swirling at the top of the mix, combining chaos with pure energy.


Gong, founded by Daevid Allen of Soft Machine fame, not only produced some of the most interesting and wacky music ever made, but also has the distinction of being one of the few space rock bands to have been inspired by extraterrestrials. Allen claimed that the mythological creatures like Octave Doctors, Pot Head Pixies, and which populate many of Gong's songs were inspired by a "telepathic pirate radio network operating brain-to-brain by crystal machine transmitter direct from Planet Gong." This cosmic cast creates a story full of sound spiritual advice and sheer unintelligibility, but, more importantly, it creates some truly fantastic music. Gong's lineup has constantly been metamorphosing since their inception, but the classic cast of Gong has included Allen on guitar and "aluminum croon," Gilli Smyth on "spacewhisper," Didier Malherbe on sax and flute, Steve Hillage on lead guitar, and Pierre Moerlin on drums.

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