Nick Rhodes, essentially the most concept-friendly and new-romantic of Duran Duran’s line-up, has been in contemplation. Largely he’s been excited about the actions of the heavens and their travelling companion, mythology.
If the gods are offended, this pondering goes, their temper swings is perhaps interpreted celestially, offering a pure hedge in opposition to uncertainties. It’s a pastime that’s given druids loads of work alternatives for millennia and, in current a long time, additionally rock stars (a time period that’s itself one thing of giveaway).
Up to now yr, Rhodes and experimental artist/musician Wendy Bevan have been reflecting on these issues in Covid seclusion, separated by the cosmically insignificant distance between London and LA. The result’s Astronomia I: The Fall of Saturn, the primary instalment of a 52-piece, four-part venture, which was launched on the vernal equinox final month. The subsequent three components, allegorical in nature, are set for launch on the remaining solstices and autumnal equinox of the yr.
Covid’s interregnum nudged Rhodes into inventive journey, though initially of lockdown he’d resolved to learn books, type out images, attend to home chores. “I realised this was going to take some time and the one factor to do was loosen up into it,” he instructed the Observer. “We regarded inwards for a brand new musical language. It was a freedom from writing pop songs, and galvanizing to have solely notes to convey what I wish to say. It was like discovering a brand new type of some surrealist orchestra.”
Rhodes and Bevan aren’t alone. Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, with its intergalactic rollerblading celebration hit Levitating, regarded in type and lyric past the bonds of earth gravity. In February, Grimes instructed The Face she needed a “humanoid vessel” to go to Mars, a visit she described as one of many “most important issues I’m making an attempt to do”. Pleased coincidence, then, that her boyfriend is house entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Wherever one stands on idea albums, house fantasy is a longstanding theme, particularly for musicians who got here of age throughout the house race and made early forays into prog rock. Hawkwind’s House is Deep or Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive gave strategy to Roxy Music and David Bowie, who in flip impressed Jobriath, Sparks’ In Outer House, Gary Numan and Duran Duran, every to a point drawn in the direction of a space-age conjunction with showbusiness.
For Rhodes, the founder (with John Taylor) of the enduring 80s band, the massive bang was Bowie’s efficiency (now misplaced, apart from the audio) of Starman on the Granada TV present Raise-Off with Ayshea. “I bear in mind seeing it after speeding residence from college and pondering, wow. It’s considerably of a unicorn as a result of nobody can discover the videotape,” Rhodes says. For Bowie, space-mining was a repeating theme. His star flip in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth made one other connection between house and stardom.
Bowie’s character is requested by a toddler what he’s doing on the planet. “Oh, simply visiting,” he responds.
Some, after all, saved interstellar wanderings going: Brian Eno, for one, produced the soundtrack to the 1983 Apollo-programme documentary that aspired, sonically talking, to the weightlessness of outer house, and might be discovered round that point consuming Kraft Singles cheese slices at his Maida Vale studio as an astronaut would possibly. Parliament-Funkadelic toured with the P Funk Mothership, an area automobile belonging to Dr Funkenstein, an alter ego of George Clinton, now on the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition. Michael Jackson countered with the moonwalk.
Brian Might, Queen’s guitarist, is a co-founder of the annual Asteroid Day; Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson carried out a flute duet of Bouree, primarily based on Bach’s Suite in E minor for Lute, with Nasa astronaut Cady Coleman on the Worldwide House Station on the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s Earth orbit. It’s arduous to think about a bigger theme than the universe, most likely as a result of there isn’t one. “You’ve bought mythology, Jean Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy, astronomy,” Rhodes says with impish glee.
The consequence, he says, is “orchestral, ambient, ethereal, digital, summary, cinematic, mood-music” that may’t be simply pigeon-holed. “We are able to’t label it ourselves,” he says. For her half, Bevan calls it “a memoir locked right into a time capsule – musical notation to be launched into the mysterious abyss”.
Pandemic music tasks include historic precedent: Guillaume de Machaut, a French composer who shut himself away throughout a 14th-century wave of the bubonic plague to compose the primary polyphonic mass, Messe de Nostre Dame. Classical music, too, took a brand new flip throughout the Spanish flu of 1918 beneath Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
As Duran Duran put together to launch an album subsequent month, Rhodes says the band (named for the evil genius Dr Durand Durand within the 1967 sci-fi fantasy Barbarella) – has all the time saved no less than a toehold in house. Their debut single, Planet Earth, urged the brand new romantics might be trying down from the heavens. “We had each intention of being this art-college peculiarity,” Rhodes instructed Q journal in 1993. “The viewers we used to play to was actually decadent. I imply freak present – bald women with 10-foot feathers. And immediately we’ve bought 14-year-old women screaming at us.”
In 2019, they performed Nasa’s Cape Canaveral’s Rocket Backyard for the fiftieth anniversary of the primary moon touchdown. “We’re the space-race era, and that marvel sticks with you,” Rhodes says.
Rhodes isn’t unduly preoccupied with UFOs or aliens. “I might love for there to be one thing we actually can’t perceive, apart from politics,” Rhodes says. “Sadly, I consider viruses as aliens. You’ll be able to’t see them, we’re beneath assault, they mutate. It’s like alien warfare.”
The primary observe on the report is titled The Nice Attractor – referring to a principle that the Milky Approach is being drawn towards one thing that astrophysicists can’t absolutely clarify however will most likely lead to our galaxy’s destruction. “For those who begin to ponder the mysteries of the universe, you possibly can find yourself in darkish areas,” he concedes. “I’m within the holographic universe. Science to me is a private faith.”
The conjunction between artwork and science, then, isn’t arduous to understand. Rhodes concludes: “Artists are dreamers, and they’re pushed by the unknown and an urge to find. House is the final word exploration – however so is journey. That’s partly why we’ve toured a lot. Discovery and marvel is an enormous a part of creativity.”