Friday, February 15, 2013

Record review: Terrible Spaceship - 'Invaders 1938'

By Andrew Hertzberg

It’s not too common to see a band praised for a sound that combines the influence of electronic artists, film soundtrack composers, and literary figures. So right away you know Terrible Spaceship has created something unique. Invaders 1938 tells the story of the War of the Worlds over 16 tracks of funky yet furtive jams, complete with recorded voiceover from the infamous radio broadcast. The 7-piece band led by Travis Chandler uses live instruments as well as samples, in the vein of RJD2, Beck, and Gorillaz. Throw in your sci-fi reference of choice and that paints the broader picture of this album.

No one song in particular stands out as the album works as a whole of the sum of its parts. It’s a concept album that’s more pleasurable than pretentious. Of the 16 tracks, half of them are less than two minutes (and the longest is 3:28), making for a well-paced album that is varied enough as to never drag. While the idea is a little kitschy, it’s pulled off in a non-kitschy way. The voiceover from the radio broadcast (featuring Orson Welles) can be distracting from the music itself at times, but there are more moments where the music dominates the story as well: the sinister horns + record scratching in "Extraterrestrial," the binary communication in "10010011," the guitar squeals of "Wiped Out," or the wild and propulsive drumming during "The Fall," and when both voiceover and music collide with equal veracity during "Eye Witness."

The original War of the Worlds broadcast tricked some listeners who thought it was real. Is that what Terrible Spaceship is doing? Try listening to this album while reading a news site (or a newspaper for that matter) and tell me you aren’t frightened by the state of the world, a constant threat of not just war, but terrorism, disease, and daily violence that plagues our city particularly. It wouldn’t have been inappropriate to title this album Invaders 2013.

Invaders 1938 is available on bandcamp for streaming or download. See the madness and terror in action this Saturday February 16th at Martyrs (9:30, 21+, $12, buy tickets here).

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