Since the demise of ska as a serious form of music and perhaps due to the terrible uses that saxophones were put to in the eighties, it is becoming increasingly rare to hear new music using brass and wind instruments. Though jazz will never let the trumpet go and Jethro Tull remains close to the emergency dump hatch in our hearts, it seems new generations are losing interest in the alternately harsh and soothing sounds of brass and wind. Thank Eris, then, for Space Project.
Space Project have been around for a couple of years but have enjoyed a new lineup more recently. Adrian Barr explains. “In the first incarnation, our piano player went overseas. So for the last eight or nine months we’ve been joined by holly Harrison who plays trumpet and flute. We’ve been writing new material with her and pretty quickly we got into the studio and put together an EP, over the past five months or so.”
After listening to the teaser tracks on the band’s myspace I would use a range of genre-words to describe the music. These ones: prog rock, experimental jazz-rock-fusion, psychedelic funk rock, ambient rock. Yes, they’re eclectic.
“I’d say, I dunno, experimental rock. Windcore has been tossed around because of the trumpet and flute. Our stuff goes from exotic to even driving tribal stuff at times. We’ve got lots of colours going on, you’ve got the trumpet, the flute and the guitar – which changes from guitar to sitar to banjo. We make an effort to explore the instruments that we have and what sort of sounds we can get out of them.”
Given the expansive use of epic sounds, you’d be forgiven for thinking this band is a group of aging hippies who can’t let go of Pink Floyd, but Space Project sounds nothing like previous prog efforts. The 70s ambience may, however, have something to do with Adrian’s area of study.
“Music is a constantly expanding thing for me. I’m in the middle of doing a PHD on transcendent experience in music performance and that’s what drives my own musical performance. We’re all about playing the best we can and putting as much of ourselves into it as we can and continuing to expand what we do. Space Project started off as a lively improvised kinda thing. It’s become a lot more structured in the last five or six months. In terms of my own experiences (my study) is at the core of what I do. There are certain experiences that I’ve had in Space Project that stand out as special moments for me, and they’re the moments I want to capture and create through everything we do.”
Adrian desires the capture of serendipity. He wishes to harness the momentary order that appears in natural chaos and channel it into music. He speaks of chance experiences with a certain reverence usually reserved for natural events like total solar eclipses and tsunamis. This attitude either stems from or is a natural complement to his research in transcendent experience.
“The composition process is very improvisation based. We establish a sense of mood and try to develop that. Some of the older material has been given new life since Holly joined the band. That was a chance experience in the sense of the shiver up the spine that the music gives me that it didn’t before.”
Subjectivity would have to be a defining aspect of transcendent experience. Keeping that in mind Adrian is sanguine about audience interpretation of the music. “We’re not about imposing anything on anyone. The music doesn’t have very many lyrics. Pretty much people make up their own minds about it I think. In the case of us and what we project, we’re just trying to give our best performance and give life to these pieces that we have. It’s up to the audience what they get out of it, but I’m pretty sure they’ll like it.”
Perhaps due to a lack of resources or an unwillingness to give up control, Space Project had total oversight over the recording production. “The EP process has been done by us ourselves. I pretty much mixed and mastered the whole thing so it’s been pretty close knit. We’ve all been pretty close to this material for a long time.”
This Friday Space Project will be launching their new EP and according to Adrian it might be their last show for some time. “It depends what happens with our drummer’s next baby which is due in October. We may have something come up in September but nothing has been finalised. Our EP launch might be our last show in Sydney for a while.”
Do you need further urging? Get down to the Excelsior Hotel this Friday at 8pm to check out Space Project with guests Shanghai and Meniscus and be sure to check them out at http://myspace.com/spaceprojectile