NASA: The Spirit Of Apollo

I told you.

Last December, I predicted that the new album by N.A.S.A. (comprised of Sam Spiegel and DJ Zegon), The Spirit Of Apollo, would bring about a certain kind of Apocalypse.

Well, look around: A crumbling economy, a lesbian taking over as premier in Iceland…It’s only a matter of time before the Great Winged One of Darkness bursts forth through the crumbling Earth’s core and begins spewing hellfire and wickedness for eons to come.

But while we wait, we can still give a listen to the new album!

N.A.S.A., short for North America, South America is a collaborative effort between some of society’s most cherished and talented indie rockers, hip-hop superstars, and a slew of freaks and geeks in between (Karen O, Lykke Li, M.I.A, Santogold, and Tom Waits to name only a few) …all coming together for one masterful piecing together of music and imagery.

Opening tracks including “Money” and “Hip-Hop” take a moment to frown upon the evils of greed and the “instant fame” complex plaguing modern pop today, all within hook-heavy choruses and stellar musical production.

Like most of the raps featured within Spirit, the verses benefit from superior, thought-provoking lyricism rather than mile-a-minute brag attacks: “When I first started, I was whole hearted, but now the game became dearly departed / Billboard charted, artists get retarted when them checks come, I still respect some.”

Standouts on the album are generally unsurprising; those featuring the megawattage stars tend to shine brightest, such as Karen O’s deliciously unexpected cameo upon the appropriate titled “Strange Enough.” Though all too brief, hearing her weird, warbly voice only served to further my desire to hear the upcoming Yeah Yeah Yeah‘s release.

Then there’s “Gifted” featuring Lykke Li, Santogold, and Kanye West, a track that leaked earlier last year. With all of its glittering, sputtering beats and crushed electronica, “Gifted” sounds doubly gorgeous in high quality. “Way Down” is another sizzler, creeping in like a lazy ’70’s summer haze. “Don’t ask me where I’ve been…Way down,” Barbie Hatch slinkily croons throughout the funkified, tripping beat.

“Whatchadoin” might be the most irrestistable number; a thump-tastic set of classic M.I.A. back-n-forth rhyming, and uncontrollably catchy, plumped up beats. Santogold‘s rockier, grittier influence also makes itself apparent against the more tribal beats of M.I.A. “Whhhhatcha’ doin?” taunts the chorus, in a classic Arular stomper only Ms. Arulpragasam could properly dominate.

At times though, the album suffers from an oversaturation with heavy hip-hop, such as “The Mayor.” The same applies to “Spacious Thoughts,” which seems particularly all over the place with the inclusino of Tom Waits‘ signature growlings atop a doped-up, hip-hop thump that never fully unfolds into something cohesive.

Still, it’s an issue of preference. For me? I’m not into harder hip-hop, so the tracks don’t appeal. For others, I’m sure they could very well play like the tracklisting to a dream mix-tape.

In short, the album is a sm ashing success, bringing together the rich flavors and flows from all reaches–both geographical and musical. Hearing the album in full allows itself to the fundamental idea of musicas a forum for communication and expression, and this diverse cast of both superstar and underground icons truly serve to enrich the album with their own unique influences and styles.

Plus, the beats are pretty damn hot.

A job well done, N.A.S.A. Now go on and set the world ablaze.

DL: Whachadoin? (feat. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold & Nick Zinner) (Starfire Remix) (Sharebee)

Click here to pre-order The Spirit of Apollo.

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