The Spirit of Apollo

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Exploding out the hearts and minds of a pair of incredibly hooked up and talented DJs, Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean) and Ze Gonzales (DJ Zegon); North America/South America’s groovin’ album seeks nothing less than to bring people together using the shared enjoyment of bangin’ music. Five years in the making, The Spirit of Apollo blends such varied artists as David Byrne and Gift of Gab, Karen O and a posthumous ODB, as well as P Funk’s George Clinton & Chali 2na over a range of tracks set to bouncin’ hip-hop rhythms, Brazilian beats, and lounging soul.

At first blush, the pairings seem a bit off the wall, but somehow they never come off as gimmicky or trite; but always on point and aurally pleasing. I was simply blown away by
‘Spacious Thoughts,” the track featuring Tom Waits & Kool Keith. One might never think it, but Waits’ has an incredible ability to sing back up on a hip-hop cut and the DJ Duo’s blending of these seemingly disparate artist’s styles is truly masterful. Pulling talent from both coasts of the U.S. as well as some well known South American acts (CCS’ Lovefoxxx & Seu Jorge among others), The Spirit of Apollo features some of the hottest up and comers; Santogold, Lykke Li, Barbie Hatch, as well as the pleasing return of some of my favorite underground voices from the 90s; Del Tha Funkee Homosapien & DJ Qbert among those already mentioned. A true attempt at cross media collaboration, N.A.S.A. got five artists, like Shepard Fairey, Marcel Dzama, Mark Gonzales and friends, to create five interchangeable covers available in copies of the album as well.

It’s difficult to find any faults with the album. It’s obviously been meticulously crafted and gone over with a bazillion fine tuned space-age combs, it’s as polished and original a final product as I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps, if you don’t like hip-hop, this might not be an album for you, but why not give it a try and see if the spirit has something to say to you.

Kenneth Joachim

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