Spaceport Union makes a solid landing

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March 22, 2013

Spaceport Union
Flirting With the Queen (2012)
Produced by Michael Jack

Reviewed by Yasuko Thanh

Seventies art rock, 80s synthesisers, and a neo-psychedelic–sometimes even world-beat!–groove. Spaceport Union delivers variety in its most artful, hybridized form. Here’s something truly eclectic.

Caroline Spence, from Victoria, BC, sings music with an experimental and innovative edge. She has this angels-in-the-church-rafters voice, which goes a long way to explaining why she’s nominated for the Vancouver Island Music Award Vocalist of the Year.

The stacked harmonies of “Fueled by Consequence,” a VIMA nominated Song of the Year, are reminiscent Paul McCartney and Wings. Soulful. Spence’s ethereal delivery in “Minnow” haunts us with a fourteen-minute tale.

Hypnotic songs vie for space with effects-laden tracks. Jazzy beats with funk echoes (think 70s Parliament or Bootsy Collins) take me on a journey through time. Fans of extended rock solos so popular in the 70s will appreciate “Yer Battery’s Dyin.” Lovers of Neil Young or Pink Floyd might find themselves right at home with songs like “Block.”

Many of the numbers appear vastly divergent on the surface–but they aren’t if you listen harder to hear the common thread. An underlying sensibility holds them together.  Imagine a bicycle wheel: every spoke can be different, but a strong core holds them together at the centre.

An album such as this could have become disconnected by its scope. But not in the hands of these musicians. As I listened, I found myself drawn to the music’s leitmotif the way something small gets sucked into a whirlpool. I found myself circling inward.

Songs such as “You” employ the technique of repetition–in the way that streams are repetitive, their ripples. Or mantras. Sunsets. Raindrops. You get my drift.

Too much talent can be a curse. These musicians definitely have talent to burn. But you don’t catch them gratuitously flaunting their gifts.  This is honest creativity.

I get the sense they’re having fun–but never at our expense. They don’t tout their talent.

When I gave myself up to the album, it carried me away.

 Fueled by Consequence

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Yasuko Thanh’s short story collection Floating Like the Dead (M&S) was a Quill & Quire Best Books of 2012 selection.

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