Spaceheads are a trumpet and drum duo made up of Andy Diagram and Richard Harrison. Though Diagram’s well known as a member of one of Manchester’s most iconic bands James, he’s released twelve albums through Spaceheads and the duo have become renowned for their quirky and infectious music. Spaceheads released album number twelve on November 21st 2016, titled ‘Laughing Water’ and featuring their old friend and collaborator Vincent Bertholet on the double bass.
In true eccentric Spaceheads fashion, the first sound that you’re introduced to on the album is one of gushing water for the appropriately titled opening track ‘Laughing Water’, before you’re almost instantaneously greeted by the sound of visiting Spacehead Vincent Bertholet’s double bass. Bertholet’s double bass, in turn with the layered loops of Diagram’s trumpet and the irresistible beat provided by drummer and percussionist Richard Harrison, results in an up-tempo track that almost defies you not to dance.
Ironically, second track ‘Dark Blue’ appears to be the darkest on the album, carried by the double bass and beginning with an intense drum beat that’s soon accompanied by the experimental and distant sound of Diagram’s trumpet. When it comes to originality, Spaceheads always score highly due to their resistance to conform to any guidelines, a quality that’s apparent within the contrastingly chilled nature of the next track ‘Be Calmed’; Harrison provides a soothing chill out beat whilst the spotlight lands on Diagram’s genius trumpet manipulation.
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The albums tempo reaches its highest for ‘Quantum Shuffle’ that gets off to a thunderous start with every instrument; most notably the double bass which is well worth turning your subwoofer up for! It’s easy to see why Diagram is renowned for his unique style of playing the trumpet as he loops and distorts his way through ‘Quantum Shuffle’, and the same can be said for Harrison’s drumming and percussive skills in the next track ‘Octopus’.
Though the prominence of Bertholet’s double bass gives the album more of a melodic and jazzy feel than its predecessor ‘A Short Ride on the Arrow of Time’, the use of technology takes the album away from any danger of becoming too jazzy in a traditional sense. The stimulating ‘Machine Molle’ for example is based around loops on Bertholet’s double bass and sees an articulate use of vocals, with the repetition of the captivatingly poignant line “everybody needs peace in the world’.
‘Pedalo Power’ also features vocals, though they’re sampled and unrecognisable as the focal point of the track lies more so with the soaring sounds of Diagram’s trumpet. Harrison brings the track to an end with his control of both its tempo and texture, leaving us with the slow starting final track; ‘Aire De Rhone’. In a similar fashion to ‘Machine Molle’, ‘Aire de Rhone’ is another track based around loops on Bertholet’s double bass, though it possesses a more intricate nature that’s juxtaposed with the albums closing sounds of police sirens.
‘Laughing Water’ is perhaps the most accessible Spaceheads album to date, well and truly highlighting the trio of talent behind it. The addition of Bertholet’s double bass shines brightly without stepping on the heels of Diagram and Harrison and the end result of their collaboration is an experimental masterpiece.
‘Laughing Water’ is out now via Electric Brass Records.