N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Proves that there really are still artists out there who put music above ego

Chris Jones 2009

N.A.S.A stands for North America South America. Spirit Of Apollo attempts to fuse not only two halves of a continent but also first and third world cultures. Not a spectacularly original concept, perhaps, but luckily the two protagonists, Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean) and Ze Gonzales (DJ Zegon) have kept the whole thing grounded in banging beats over a fusion of old skool hip hop and Latin shimmying. Good times are guaranteed.

While their claim that they combine the freakiest combinations of artists doesn't really hold much water in these pick 'n' mix times there are some eye-openers, especially John Frusciante's turn with RZA (Way Down) and the 'are you really sure?' mutation of Karen O, Fatlip and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard on Strange Enough. Thematically beyond the usual anti-capitalist (Money) and and universal brotherhood (The People Tree) strands the message never gets too heavy to obscure the fine music. The production draws you back in, from the children's chorus on The People Tree to the squeaky chorus on O Pato.

It's hardly an equal split here between the continents. Despite the presence of Seu Jorge, Lovefoxxx or Djs QBert and Babao there's a far greater slant toward the Northern artists, but in the end you're bludgeoned into submission, not only by the awesome list of talent, (David Byrne, Kanye West? George Clinton??) but how the duo keep them all in order. It never gets stale and highlights are many, though special mention has to go to Cool Keith and Tom Waits' loping, brooding Spacious Thoughts and the irresistible tribal bounce of M.I.A, Santogold and Spank Rock on Whachadoin?

The Spirit Of Apollo proves that there really are still artists out there who put music above ego and this album could well prove to be one of those cross-genre exercises that transcends the stars attached to it.

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