Monday 7 March 2016

Review of 'Star Wars Headspace'

I have a bad feeling about this’ was my initial thought on this album, to quote my dad on his wedding day.

 A Star Wars themed EDM compilation album? There have been too many desperate attempts to cash-in on this sci-fi franchise in the past, including some astronomically awful Star Wars themed albums. At least I was safe in the knowledge that nothing could be as awful as Christmas in the Stars.

Christmas in the Stars

Mastered by Rick Rubin and boasting some big names in its production credits including Flying Lotus and Baauer, Star Wars Headspace is an assortment of trap bangers, house anthems and ambient electronic pieces with some Darth-Vader-breath-noises and R2-D2-bleeps thrown into the mix in order to stay topical. Nothing is overly left-field here – even Flying Lotus feels like he’s holding back on the experimental front. However, there are some surprisingly fun tracks here nonetheless that feel like they were made with some heart and soul.

‘Force’ by Troi features some warm bouncy chords, the likes of which I could see accompanying a Mos Eisley summer barbecue, before descending into a jaunty drop that may well be made out of lightsabre samples. Rustie’s ‘EWOK PUMPP’ meanwhile is a mass of springy synth splurges that could easily fuel a woodland rave on the forest moon of Endor. Then there’s Rick Rubin’s ‘NR-G7’, a cinematic pastiche of soaring sounds, bold and mighty as a Star Destroyer.

Ewoks raving it up 

There are some Jar-Jar-Binks-scale disappointments along the way. ‘R2 Knows’ is cheap acid house with some rambling lyrics over the top (‘Luke meets a little green man on Dagobah’) altogether about as corny as Anakin’s script in the prequels. ‘Jabba Flow’ meanwhile is a disaster in mixing, the volume plummeting during the drop, carrying about as much impact as Anakin’s acting during the prequels. And given the amount of trap-flavoured tracks here, why did no-one think to sample ‘it’s a trap!’?

Clearly this album could have had more thought put into it. Most of the people involved feel like they’re cruising on their talents rather than entering hyperdrive. However, not everyone’s here to make a cheap buck either as I feared. There is a sense of playfulness on this record – even the slower and more serious tracks feel like they’re paying tribute to the Star Wars universe rather than simply serving as recycled b-sides. It's certainly more listenable than C3PO singing Yuletide hymns.