Spirit of Apollo, The
N.A.S.A. began work on The Spirit of Apollo with a mission: make funky beats with crazy knock and throw anyone they felt was right onto every track, no matter how strange the pairings seemed. The result is an innovative, head-nodding piece of work from two producers who were brought together at an industry party 7 years ago. Sam Spiegel (aka Squeak E. Clean) and Ze Gonzalez (aka DJ Zegon) were united by their shared fascination with vintage Brazilian soul and funk. This is the backbone of the N.A.S.A. sound – an international jungle funk dressed up for the club. You can hear it in the stand-up bass themed ‘Money,’ featuring some fiery bars by the great Chuck D, and in the percussion of tracks like ‘The People Tree.’
But the real talking point to N.A.S.A.’s signature sound is those bizarre collaborative pairings. Karen O makes an appearance with the late ODB on his last recorded song. The RZA and Barbie Hatch prove to be an eerily pleasing combo over the dark drums and drugged out electric guitar loop on ‘Way Down.’ ‘Spacious Thoughts’ features possibly the strangest of the album’s collabs as Tom Waits growls savagely between Kool Keith’s abstract verses. N.A.S.A. even takes a bold stab into the electronic medium with the upbeat sing-along club banger ‘Whachadoin?,’ featuring MIA and Santogold (the former arrived unannounced with the latter and jumped into the both).
N.A.S.A. seems to dabble into a bit of everything, but somehow it all sounds as if it grew from the same soil. This versatility in their sound is the other amazing thing. You could throw this album on in the club and play it from start to finish and the dancefloor would stay packed. At the same time, it’s sonically rich and a pleasure to listen to as headphone music. The Spirit of Apollo is what happens when the imagination is let out of its cage. Good things happen.