Review: Joseph Freeman's The Space EP is intergalactic treat

by Blake Campbell / Arts Columnist • February 16, 2012

Webalbumcover
.
Photo Courtesy of Joseph Freeman
.
Photo Courtesy of Joseph Freeman

Loaded with good-natured camp and nostalgia, Joseph Freeman’s The Space EP is a brief but captivating journey through the tropes and traditions of classic science fiction. Freeman describes The Space EP as “part radio-play, part rock opera, part musical.” It tells the story of humans Gavin and Michelle, who must journey through space to make peace with their extraterrestrial neighbors, the Glorps, on their home planet. Described by the president as “the most monumental event that our world will ever see,” the intergalactic mission takes a turn for the worse when Gavin and Michelle arrive at Planet Glorp and realize that their alien comrades may not be as diplomatic as they appear.

The EP’s transcendence of genre is part of what makes it such a fun listen. Although there is no singing, the narration recalls radio shows of days gone by, such as Orson Welles’s notorious broadcast of The War of the Worlds. A host of familiar sci-fi sound effects, including lasers and martial arts moves, pepper the intentionally hammy dialogue. All things considered, the drama has the warm, nostalgic feel of a drive-in movie from the 1950s.

The music also defies genre. “First Contact (Prologue)” opens the EP with a wash of Brian Eno-like synths, introducing the influence of ’80s music that pervades all of the tracks. On “Deep Space,” the EP’s most introspective track, the characters recite their spaceship log entries over a surprisingly earthy background of jazzy electric piano, tinkling music box, and rain effects. “Planet Gorp” blends the 8-bit  music of old-school Nintendo with aggressive guitar strumming that builds to a cinematic climax. Freeman’s signature mix of indie rock and film score influences gives the short work an impressive scope.

Zany, varied, and fun, The Space EP is an intergalactic treat. In an era of apocalyptic, CGI-centered tales of science fiction, the EP’s optimism and camp will entertain and satisfy listeners looking for a temporary escape from earth. The EP is available for free streaming and download at josephfreeman.bandcamp.com.