Album reviewsMusicStar Wars

I got a bad feeling about this Star Wars Headspace album

23 February, 2016 — by Christopher Ratcliff0

star wars headspace album cover

Here’s one of the most important rules of journalism: Never think of your headline before you sit down and write your article. Sure you may already have a terribly ‘witty’ title held in the chamber you can’t wait to use, but when it comes to writing the actual meat of your piece, chances are by the end it will have separated very far from the original bones. Also meat metaphors are weird. Don’t ever use them either.

The point is, I came up with the above headline before I even hit play on Headspace, the new Star Wars themed electronic dance compilation album, because the very fact that a Star Wars themed electronic dance compilation album exists in 2016 is really fucking stupid.

Especially after the franchise has already spawned some of the worst spin-offs in modern pop culture history (the Holiday special, a couple of Ewoks movies, the three prequels, Carrie Fisher’s drug dependency), yet none of the nice millionaires at Lucasfilm have learnt their lesson and now there’s an EDM album produced by Rick Rubin where all the artists involved have been allowed to use any Star Wars sound effect or snippet of dialogue they like but must STAY AWAY FROM JOHN WILLIAMS OKAY!!??

So yeah, I mean, really it’s a no-brainer. Here’s the inside of my brain prior to listening: “Fnar! The title’s gonna be ‘I got a bad feeling about this Star Wars album’ which is a hilarious Star Wars quote that’s also a perfect description for the album and kablammo the review writes itself Fnar! Fnar! Fnar!” *dusts hands, puts Pop Tart in toaster, watches another Bob’s Burgers*

But you know what, it’s not that stupid. It actually has some pretty good moments on it. We’ll get to those in a bit.

It perhaps doesn’t help Headspace‘s case that the first track ‘C-3PO’s Plight’ mainly features C-3PO at his most Neil Tennant prissiest (“how typical”) backed by Kaskade’s lazy chill-out bullshit and then is followed-up by GTA’s Trap-lite ‘Help Me’ which is the very stuff of migraines (“Help me Obi-Wan, help, help, help me Obi-Wan, help me, help me, Obi-Wan, help me, help, help me Obi-Wan”). And then, after a few more derivative slices of EDM augmented with the odd Darth Vader breath or Wampa call (or was it a Tauntaun whinny? No joke, I spent a considerable amount of time last night repeatedly playing the sounds of both to compare them using my NON-SPECIAL EDITION DVDs) I get to Claude VonStroke’s ‘R2 Knows’.

This is probably the stupidest track on the album, with its so-masculine-it’s-camp techno beats and German accented vocals delivering hilariously contrived couplets as, “Luke lost his hand but a Jedi doesn’t need one. And R2 knows that Luke is really Darth Vader’s son” but it totally works because it’s the first track on the album that is completely aware of it’s own absurdity. It’s genuinely funny, and in terms of humour and sweaty disco vibes it shares more than a few midichlorians with John Grant’s last album. I love it!

After this moment, Headspace improves greatly, with some well-chosen artists making the most of the Lucasfilm sound effects library and their own imagination.

Rick Rubin’s ‘NR-G7’ is exhilarating in its teasingly stop-start manner and sacrilegious manipulation of Alec Guinness’s dialogue. Bonobo’s ‘Ghomrassen’ is a lovely reflective wallow in the Dagobah swamp. Rustie’s ‘EWOK PUMP’ (best track title on the album) keeps things appreciatively Warp-weird. Röyksopp’s ‘Bounty Hunters’ is perhaps Headspace’s strongest mainstream track. It’s eight minutes of moody techno featuring Greedo and some dramatic synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Drive soundtrack. And holy shit, there’s a Flying Lotus track to add even more legitimacy to the whole affair. ‘R2 Where R U’ is a stuttering, breakbeat head-nodder that drags you under like a Sarlacc.

With every track on Headspace, whether bad, good or average (the latter forming the majority), the most overriding feeling you’ll take away from the album is a sense of satisfied nostalgia. Much like seeing The Force Awakens itself, we may have been sceptical at first but after it had finished we all (mostly) felt a warm tingling that something had been done right. Headspace is definitely not the triumph that JJ Abrams sequel was – it is still really fucking stupid – but even at its worst, all it takes is for a simple well-timed laugh from Jabba to make you smile.

You may have felt that The Force Awakens traded too much on nostalgia, but if you made it this far you’re probably the type of person who gave a little squeal of delight when you heard the first roar of a Tie-Fighter or the squelchy fire of a Stormtrooper’s rifle. This is what really rubs my own nostalgia gland the right way; what makes me truly feel like like an eight year-old again: those noises. Those wonderful noises.

See! Look at that! I totally talked myself out of the headline.

Check out all the latest music releases in our new album reviews section, including Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered.

Star Wars - Headspace

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