Space rock  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Space rock is a style of music; the term originally referred to a group of early mostly British 1970s progressive rock and psychedelic bands like Hawkwind and Pink Floyd, characterised by slow, lengthy instrumental passages dominated by synthesisers, experimental guitar work and science fiction lyrical themes, though it was later repurposed to refer to a series of late 1980s British alternative rock bands that drew from earlier influences to create a more melodic but still ambient form of pop music.

Origins and emergence

Man's entry into outer space provided ample subject matter for rock and roll and R&B songs from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s. It also inspired new sounds and sound effects to be used in the music itself. A prominent early example of space rock is the 1959 concept album I Hear a New World by British producer and song writer Joe Meek. The album was inspired by the space race and concerned man's first close encounter with alien life forms. Meek then went on to have a UK and US #1 success in 1961 with Telstar, named after the newly launched communications satellite and thus intended to commemorate the new space age. Its main instrument was a clavioline, an electronic forerunner of synthesizers.

Space rock emerged from the late 1960s psychedelic music scene in Britain, and was closely associated with the progressive rock movement of the same era.

Pink Floyd's early albums contain pioneering examples of space rock: "Lucifer Sam", "Astronomy Domine", and "Interstellar Overdrive" from their 1967 debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn are examples. Their second album A Saucerful of Secrets contained further examples: "Let There Be More Light" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" with explicit science fiction themes, and their third, Soundtrack from the Film More (1969) had "Cirrus Minor". In early 1971, Pink Floyd began writing the song that would become known as "Echoes", from the 1971 album Meddle. The song was performed from April until September 1971, with an alternate set of lyrics, written about two planets meeting in space. Before the Meddle album released, the lyrics were changed to an aquatic theme, because of the band's concern that they were being labelled as a space rock band.

The Beatles' song "Flying" (1967), originally titled "Aerial Tour Instrumental", was a psychedelic instrumental about the sensation of flying, whether in a craft or in your own head space. The Rolling Stones' song "2000 Light Years from Home" (1967), which drew heavily on some of the aforementioned Pink Floyd songsTemplate:Citation needed, is another early form of space rock. Jimi Hendrix is also an early innovator of the genre, with such tracks as "Third Stone from the Sun", "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)" and "The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam's Dice". David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (1969) is, apart from Telstar, probably the best example of a space rock song achieving mainstream recognition. The Steve Miller Band's Space Cowboy (1969) was also about space. It has a very heavy back beat in the key of F Minor and space-like sound effects from Miller's guitar.

A major album in the history of space rock was Hawkwind's Space Ritual (1973), a two-disc live album advertised as "88 minutes of brain-damage" documenting Hawkwind's successful 1972 tour of their blow-out show complete with liquid lights and lasers, nude dancers (notably the earth-mother figure Stacia), wild costumes and psychedelic imagery. This hard-edged concert experience attracted a motley but dedicated collection of psychedelic drug users, science-fiction fans and motorcycle riders. The science fiction author Michael Moorcock collaborated with Hawkwind on many occasions: for example, he wrote the lyrics for many of the spoken-word sections on Space Ritual.

Another example is Flaming Youth's only album Ark 2.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Space rock" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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