David Bowie, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”It would be a grievous sin to omit this album from any list of space-faring records. This album marked Bowie’s embracing of the character he had experimented with on tour, and is often the image most people associate with the man himself. Ziggy Stardust is a bisexual alien rock star sent to tell us of our misgivings and our faults and to bring us through to the new reality. We need Ziggy Stardust more now than ever.
Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Solar Arkestra, “Space Is The Place”I’ve talked about Sun Ra briefly in this column before, and there are no other jazzmen like him. Released as the soundtrack for his afrofuture mind-melt of a movie with the same title, “Space Is The Place,” this may be one of his more “out there” listening experiences, which is saying quite a lot. In 1936, Herman Blount dropped out of agricultural college, was teleported to Saturn, and met with the locals there. He was forever transformed into the intergalactic jazz beast known as Sun Ra. If you don’t like jazz, this one might be a bit much, but if you want to go on a journey, it’s one of the essentials.
The Sword, “Warp Riders”A journey through space, a man who controls time, death, rebirth, a planet of perpetual night. These are all things that “Warp Riders,” the third album from Texas stoner metal outfit The Sword, bring to the table. It is at once both daunting and easily digestible. The riffs bring us into sci-fi battles between good and evil, while the spacious atmospheres invite self-reflection on the themes.
Hawkwind, “The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London”Hawkwind is THE space rock band, no matter what anyone else tells you. This is the soundtrack to hundreds of thousands of smoke sessions and Dungeons and Dragons games since its arrival to our plane of existence in 1973. This live performance combined band, laser light show, ambient textural tones, a living liquid backdrop, and spoken-word performances telling the story of interstellar explorers coming back to Earth after a lifetime of wandering the galaxy. Hawkwind is one of the most underappreciated prog-rock bands of the modern era, and if you fancy yourself an intrepid explorer, you would do well to bring this along as a soundtrack.
Gojira, “From Mars To Sirius”Let’s take apart this title for a quick second. It’s easy to see the space influences. Mars is the celestial body closest to our own, and, in mythology, has often been ascribed as the bringer of war and chaos. Sirius, the north star, the brightest in our sky, was the source of inspiration of many an explorer and wonderer as a symbol of possibility and the purest cosmos. Gojira explores those themes with relish, telling a tale of a native species on a dying planet journeying into the stars to find a new home, only to find that they had the means to preserve their own planet the entire time. A journey of great cosmic depth, while at the same time being a personal journey. These themes merit reflection in these trying times. Inspiration may be found in the cosmos, but the truest tools of change and revolution lie within our own hearts.