Dick’s Picks: Take a trip with Dick (in his Gemini spaceship) with this little-known 1990 KLF offshoot ambient LP ‘Space’……
Space / Space LP – What Is It?
Released in July 1990, just four months after the seminal ‘Chill Out’ album credited to the KLF, the eponymously titled ‘Space’ was released to little (if any) fanfare. In fact, when the album hit the shops the only way of telling that the record had a KLF, err, Konnection was by the shirts worn by the characters on the LP sleeve, look closely on the bottom left and you can see them, clever eh?
The album itself was the result of an ongoing studio collaboration between the KLF’s Jimmy Cauty and the Orb’s Dr Alex Paterson, the pair had released the first Orb single ‘A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultra-World’ the previous year to huge critical acclaim – although an un-cleared Minnie Ripperton ‘Loving You’ sample would prevent the song from being more widely known. However, rumour has it that when the Orb were offered a deal with Big Life, Paterson was faced with a conundrum: continue to record as the Orb and release music on the KLF label or leave and strike out on his own? As I’m sure you’re aware Paterson chose the latter, as a result, Cauty continued to press ahead with the release of the Space LP but removed Paterson’s contributions – ooh handbags!
Commencing with the famous NASA countdown, with the central concept/conceit being a voyage round the planets, we begin with Mercury before disappearing out the other side of Uranus (sorry couldn’t resist), Pluto and beyond, it’s true the record/concept would win no prizes for originality (hello Gustav Holst) but if you’re looking for an undiscovered ambient gem look no further….
Eno’s famous maxim regarding what makes for successful ambient music, “it should be as ignorable as it is interesting” certainly applies to ‘Space’. Unlike their previous ‘ambient’ release Chill Out, ‘Space’ doesn’t need to fill every moment with a spoken word section or recognisable sample, instead it’s confident to leave huge gaps between individual pieces, presumably with each moment of silence designed to replicate the vast expanse between planets? However, that’s not to say that the record is without the odd peak, in Part 2 (below) emerging out of the ether are some fantastic arpeggio styled synths that evoke Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’ from Dark Side Of The Moon (well I suppose they had to, no?) going head to head with the main synth riff from Jamie Principle/Frankie Knuckles Chicago house classic ‘Your Love’.
There are all manner of other audio delights during the records 38 minute playing time but I’m not going to list them as that would spoilt it, suffice to say, when Cauty called Space “a record for 14-year-old space cadets to go and take acid [to] for the first time”, (which it may well be) he was being ever-so-slightly modest/disingenuous as it’s also a superb post-rave update of ’70s Tangerine Dream styled electronica that, if Cauty had the inclination, might well have been a whole other career (well it worked for the Orb!)…….