Spaceheads are a quirky electronic duo, comprised of James trumpeter Andy Diagram and drummer/percussionist Richard Harrison. Their new album, ‘A New World in our Hearts’ (released digitally and physically on November 7th to coincide with the centenary of the Russian Revolution) celebrates various people’s struggles to achieve a better world through tracks such as ‘Laugh in the Face of Power’. 2016 saw Spaceheads release their album ‘Laughing Water’, featuring Vincent Bertholet on the double bass, complimenting both the brass and percussion perfectly, whilst adding an element of jazz to their sound that made it one of their most dance-able records to date. Bertholet was a visiting astronaut to the Spaceheads station and not only are they back to being a duo for ‘A New World In Our Hearts’, but its seen them explore an array of different styles.
Setting the tone for the rest of the album, the upbeat ‘The Revolution Sashays up the Mall’ is a jubilant opener, boasting the instantaneous and much welcomed sounds of Diagram’s soaring trumpet, alongside an irresistible beat, provided by Harrison. The track has become a live favourite of both the band and fans over the last year and it’s easy to see why – a track that’s sure to defy anybody not to dance. Sticking to the revolutionary theme but veering off into unknown territory genre wise is ‘What Is To Be Done’, getting off to a thunderous start with Harrison’s menacing beats and featuring genius trumpet manipulation from Diagram. Posing Lenin’s still relevant question “What is to be Done?”, the track is perhaps the angriest on the album, contrasting with slow burner ‘A New World in our Hearts’ that follows. The title track takes the pace of the album down a notch whilst Harrison makes a dynamic move from full kit to unorthodox percussion, accompanying Diagram’s trumpet loops, before rapidly increasing the pace once more.
Harrison’s kit is supplemented with an array of percussive materials such as sheets of metal and pans, and his use of them is eminent throughout the album, highlighting his talents and individualistic style as he contributes quirky percussion, particularly in ‘Sitting Down in Standing Rock’ and the catchy ‘May the First’. Though as always with this creative duo, the spotlight shines equally as bright on Diagram and the infectious ‘May the First’ showcases somewhat of an impressive trumpet duet with himself, achieved with live loops that he creates via an iPhone that’s attached to the top of his trumpet (via a fish slice!)
It’s hard to believe that the entirety of the album is down to just trumpet and drums – a prominent disbelief as you sit back and listen to effects such as the twinkling introduction of ‘Arise’ and both the chiming of church bells and the gushing of waves during ‘Children of a Wiser Day’. Though they produced some lyrical content back in the 90s, most Spaceheads releases are instrumental and it’s a pleasant surprise to see the addition of lyrics on two tracks; ‘Laugh in the Face of Power’ and ‘Space Rebel’. Influenced by a quote from Francesca Martinez (“The most rebellious thing you can do is be yourself”), ‘Space Rebel’ features Harrison on vocals, whilst Diagram is responsible for the rousing vocals on the exhilirating ‘Laugh in the Face of Power’.
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In a recent interview with Sounds Magazine, Diagram and Harrison discussed the celebratory nature of the album and their intention to generate optimism about the future, by referencing past situations in which people have come together to make a positive change. This celebratory nature is particularly apparent in album opener ‘Revolution Sashays Up The Mall’ and closer ‘Mons Dream’ – the latter starting off lightly with the calming sound of wind chimes, before taking a dark and intense turn and ending triumphantly – if optimism and hope had a sound, then it would be the end of ‘Mons Dream’.
‘A New World In Our Hearts’ is a whirlwind of originality, covering various styles and illuminating the brilliance of Diagram and Harrison. Most musical partnerships fail to reach a thirteenth album, though Spaceheads aren’t like any other partnership and their creative juices have been flowing since the nineties. You can catch them spark the sounds of Revolution live on 25th November 2017 at Manchester’s The Bread Shed, 1st December at Birmingham’s The Edge and 9th December at London’s New River Studios – head over to their Facebook page for tickets.
‘A New World In Our Heats’ is out now via Electric Brass Records