From Eno to Dua Lipa, why musicians are fascinated with outer area | Pop and rock

Nick Rhodes, essentially the most concept-friendly and new-romantic of Duran Duran’s line-up, has been in contemplation. Most commonly he’s been desirous about the actions of the heavens and their travelling better half, mythology.

If the gods are indignant, this considering is going, their temper swings could be interpreted celestially, offering a herbal hedge towards uncertainties. It’s a passion that’s given druids quite a few paintings alternatives for millennia and, in fresh many years, additionally rock stars (a time period this is itself one thing of giveaway).

Prior to now 12 months, Rhodes and experimental artist/musician Wendy Bevan were reflecting on those issues in Covid seclusion, separated by way of the cosmically insignificant distance between London and LA. The result’s Astronomia I: The Fall of Saturn, the primary instalment of a 52-piece, four-part mission, which used to be launched at the vernal equinox ultimate month. The following 3 portions, allegorical in nature, are set for free up at the last solstices and autumnal equinox of the 12 months.

Covid’s interregnum nudged Rhodes into inventive journey, although originally of lockdown he’d resolved to learn books, kind out pictures, attend to home chores. “I realised this used to be going to take some time and the one factor to do used to be calm down into it,” he advised the Observer. “We seemed inwards for a brand new musical language. It used to be a freedom from writing pop songs, and provoking to have simplest notes to put across what I need to say. It used to be like discovering a brand new shape of a few surrealist orchestra.”

Rhodes and Bevan don’t seem to be on my own. Dua Lipa’s Long run Nostalgia, with its intergalactic rollerblading celebration hit Levitating, seemed in taste and lyric past the bonds of earth gravity. In February, Grimes advised The Face she sought after a “humanoid vessel” to visit Mars, a go back and forth she described as one of the vital “primary issues I’m looking to do”. Glad twist of fate, then, that her boyfriend is area entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Anywhere one stands on principle albums, area myth is a longstanding theme, particularly for musicians who got here of age all over the gap race and made early forays into prog rock. Hawkwind’s Area is Deep or Red Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive gave method to Roxy Song and David Bowie, who in flip impressed Jobriath, Sparks’ In Outer Area, Gary Numan and Duran Duran, each and every to some extent drawn against a space-age conjunction with showbusiness.

For Rhodes, the founder (with John Taylor) of the iconic 80s band, the massive bang used to be Bowie’s efficiency (now misplaced, excluding for the audio) of Starman at the Granada TV display Elevate-Off with Ayshea. “I keep in mind seeing it after speeding house from faculty and considering, wow. It’s reasonably of a unicorn as a result of no you will see the videotape,” Rhodes says. For Bowie, space-mining used to be a repeating theme. His big name flip in Nicolas Roeg’s The Guy Who Fell To Earth made some other connection between area and stardom.

Bowie’s persona is requested by way of a kid what he’s doing on the earth. “Oh, simply visiting,” he responds.

Some, after all, saved interstellar wanderings going: Brian Eno, for one, produced the soundtrack to the 1983 Apollo-programme documentary that aspired, sonically talking, to the weightlessness of outer area, and may well be discovered round that point consuming Kraft Singles cheese slices at his Maida Vale studio as an astronaut would possibly. Parliament-Funkadelic toured with the P Funk Mothership, an area automobile belonging to Dr Funkenstein, an modify ego of George Clinton, now on the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition. Michael Jackson countered with the moonwalk.

Brian Might, Queen’s guitarist, is a co-founder of the yearly Asteroid Day; Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson carried out a flute duet of Bouree, in line with Bach’s Suite in E minor for Lute, with Nasa astronaut Cady Coleman on the Global Area Station at the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s Earth orbit. It’s onerous to consider a bigger theme than the universe, most probably as a result of there isn’t one. “You’ve were given mythology, Jean Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy, astronomy,” Rhodes says with impish glee.

The end result, he says, is “orchestral, ambient, airy, digital, summary, cinematic, mood-music” that may’t be simply pigeon-holed. “We will’t label it ourselves,” he says. For her section, Bevan calls it “a memoir locked right into a time pill – musical notation to be launched into the mysterious abyss”.

Pandemic track initiatives include historic precedent: Guillaume de Machaut, a French composer who close himself away all over a 14th-century wave of the bubonic plague to compose the primary polyphonic mass, Messe de Nostre Dame. Classical track, too, took a brand new flip all over the Spanish flu of 1918 underneath Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

As Duran Duran get ready to free up an album subsequent month, Rhodes says the band (named for the evil genius Dr Durand Durand within the 1967 sci-fi myth Barbarella) – has at all times saved no less than a toehold in area. Their debut unmarried, Planet Earth, recommended the brand new romantics may well be taking a look down from the heavens. “We had each aim of being this art-college peculiarity,” Rhodes advised Q mag in 1993. “The target audience we used to play to used to be actually decadent. I imply freak display – bald ladies with 10-foot feathers. And abruptly we’ve were given 14-year-old ladies screaming at us.”

In 2019, they performed Nasa’s Cape Canaveral’s Rocket Lawn for the 50th anniversary of the primary moon touchdown. “We’re the space-race era, and that marvel sticks with you,” Rhodes says.

Rhodes isn’t unduly preoccupied with UFOs or extraterrestrial beings. “I would really like for there to be one thing we actually can’t perceive, as opposed to politics,” Rhodes says. “Unfortunately, I bring to mind viruses as extraterrestrial beings. You’ll be able to’t see them, we’re underneath assault, they mutate. It’s like alien battle.”

The primary observe at the report is titled The Nice Attractor – relating to a principle that the Milky Manner is being drawn towards one thing that astrophysicists can’t totally provide an explanation for however will most probably lead to our galaxy’s destruction. “In the event you begin to contemplate the mysteries of the universe, you’ll be able to finally end up in darkish areas,” he concedes. “I’m within the holographic universe. Science to me is a private faith.”

The conjunction between artwork and science, then, isn’t onerous to seize. Rhodes concludes: “Artists are dreamers, and they’re pushed by way of the unknown and an urge to find. Area is without equal exploration – however so is trip. That’s partially why we now have toured such a lot. Discovery and beauty is a huge a part of creativity.”

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