Space Captain - In Memory EP (Digital EP, Tru Thoughts , 2016)
Space Captain - In Memory EP
(Digital EP) Tru Thoughts TRUDD160, 2016-02-26
0 1. Screams 01:09
02. Landing / Up In The Hills 03:01
03. Cosmos 02:57
04. Still 01:45
05. Two 05:16
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Press Release :
26th February brings the “In Memory” EP by Space Captain, unveiling four new pieces to add to the immersive “Two” – the upfront track whose release on 4th December announced a bold new sound from the young Brooklyn outfit. Picked as Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6Music MPfree, the attention-grabbing nugget also gained support including a Clash premiere and the Gigslutz New Band of the Week accolade, and has had more than 10K Soundcloud plays to date.
In a period of open-minded experimentation, via live shows and studio jams, Space Captain have alighted on a progressive fusion of R&B and psychedelic rock with tentacles spinning out into soul, hip hop, electronica and noise. The “In Memory” EP finds singer/lyricist Maralisa Simmons-Cook exploring darker, more personal subjects; with themes of mourning, the life cycle, lightness verses darkness, death and rebirth, each song is a record of a true recent event.
Tiny-but-mighty EP opener “Screams” sets up an emotionally and sonically adventurous trip, luring the listener into a tranquil space before second cut “Landing / Up In The Hills” swiftly pulls the rug out from underneath. From an abstract and experimental electronic squall, which imagines the frantic energy of a spaceship landing on foreign ground, the track suddenly yet serenely shifts focus to a surreal scene in the woods, of four young girls dressed elegantly and playing in a creek drain – a scene encountered by Simmons-Cook last winter near her home in Northern California.
The EP’s centrepiece, “Cosmos” delves into jazz- and hip hop-infused electronica, skittish synths and bass providing the backdrop for a nuanced and rich vocal; the first song to be written for the EP, its emotional intensity was born from the tragic and sudden death of a family member while on a family holiday. “While my family struggled with this tragedy, I was processing my own emotions through song, picking up on my immense sadness yet inability to break down”, says Simmons-Cook, acknowledging that after enduring and confronting this grief, “Cosmos” set the tone for the ‘In Memory’ EP. “Though not all of the songs hold such weight”, she concludes; “The project has evolved, exploring memory and imagination with a focus on sensory details and emotion”.
“Still” grew from the band’s two founder members – Simmons-Cook and producer/bassist Alex Pyle – independently envisioning eerily similar song concepts which meld into a mesmerising, stripped-down yet richly harmonic interlude, setting the scene for the epic that is “Two”. The closer brings a commentary on materialism, city dwelling and anxiety, Simmons-Cook’s elastic vocals intertwining with arresting production on a catchy, languid R&B ballad that is tantalisingly twisted by glimmering guitar, swirling harmonics and muscular drums to bloom into a psychedelic indie-rock wig-out.
Simmons-Cook and Pyle met at New York’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music; sharing piano lessons and soul and hip hop recommendations, the pair decided to start a project to fuse their complementary musical backgrounds. Originally from outside Philadelphia, Alex had grown up inspired by the ‘90s golden age (D’Angelo, Madlib). Meanwhile, over in California’s Marin County, Maralisa was listening to soul and blues (Amy Winehouse, Taj Mahal, Nina Simone), singing in an a cappella group and spending holidays in New Orleans at Jazz Fest. As they delved deeper into their collaboration, Space Captain expanded into the compelling live ensemble you hear today, completed by Alex’s childhood friends Gray Hall (production/guitar) and Mike Haldeman (guitar), and New School members Joey Ziegler (drums), Joy Morales (keyboard) and Lessie Vonner (trumpet).
Space Captain joined the Tru Thoughts roster amid an early buzz which was already spreading across the likes of The Line Of Best Fit, Indie Shuffle and Revive Music. With heavy play from John Kennedy (X-posure) and Don Letts (BBC 6Music), fresh early visions of Space Captain’s sound left no doubt as to their talent, while only hinting at the huge artistic strides they would make on this new material. Also attracting recent attention, their remix of “Sexual Healing” by Hot 8 Brass Band, part of the latter’s 20th Anniversary celebrations, was singled out for praise by Wax Poetics and Okayplayer. Building on this groundswell, the band have been busy with gigs in New York spots like Rockwood Music Hall, Arlene's Grocery, Littlefield and Shea Stadium (packing their shows with audio-visual ideas including bringing TVs onstage), as well as playing their third Sofar Sounds gig and supporting BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah.