Dec. 2020. Spaceship Blues EP- by Scantron
"I thoroughly enjoyed Jason Pfaff’s latest EP music release “Spaceship Blues":, and listening to it for review has caused a change in myself and brought me to reflect on my relationship to music both as a listener and as an artist. This release, to me, fits well into the postmodern type of environment that defines the current climate, where many genres can co-mingle and co-exist. At the same time, it reflects a similar vibe that was present from the decade spanning from the 90s to the early 2000s when genres like electronic, folk, indie rock, etc could co-exist and reflect on each other.
The first track, “Closer”, has an electronic beat, rocking guitars, and melancholy vocals that refrain “I just can’t figure it out”. It is ambient in multiple ways, from trance-y to noise rock and is a great mood piece to start the vibe of this eclectic album.
This is followed up by the second track “A Stellar Wind”. This piece is more lyric heavy, with content similar to early Dylan mixed with 90s Beck: “And then the angry shepherd came clean, when he found out santa klaus was green, he dropped the act he crossed the line he told them everything, he never spoke again now he just singssss”. The vocal style moves from reminiscent-of-Leonard-Cohen on the verses to belting a David-Bowie-balladesque chorus delivery style. With both those artists mentioned in the previous sentence having moved on from this world, Jason Pfaff may be some of the closest you will get to this type of art moving forward on this material plane. With acoustic sounds of piano and drums setting a natural mood, this is offset by the production effects that process the acoustic instruments and bring skilled texture to the overall piece. Arrangement, production, performance, and songwriting are all showcased by this piece.
The centerpiece third track “Megafone” starts out with heavy drums and titular vocal processing sound. It is heavy rock style, but with live recording on the percussion it proves its later refrain “nothing means nothing if it ain’t got soul” because you can feel an energy that is lacking in much over-produced and over-processed music of today. It is definitely produced and processed, but in a way that is a lost art in today’s market. Verse lyrics like “too many selfies but not enough self” defines the antithesis of what music like this song make you feel and a world apart from the hope an album like this brings. When the expertly juxtaposed melodic chorus of “I’m waiting for the greyhound bus” come in, it makes you wish you could take a greyhound bus back to when music like this was popular. The only way to do this is to cause a shift in music like this album is leading towards.
The fourth track “A New Dawn” upon careful listening can lead one to its titular focal point. It juxtaposes many elements like acoustic drums with electronic rhythms, guitar strums with glitchy electronics, and toy piano notes with sequencer arpeggios. These dualities are mixed together in a very subtle way and can be missed on first listen if one is not careful or mindful. The vocal sounds or chant toward the end of the track place a human character above the apparent dualities and highlight their synthesis and transcendence.
“How it Ends” could refer to this as the final track on the album, the end of a highly-personal romantic relationship, or to humanity with its culture and civilization at current point. This track I personally pair in my mind with the second track in that they both showcase the four elements mentioned in the last sentence of that track’s review paragraph. This similarity gives cohesion to the album and a style to the eclectism found in all its five tracks. The word Spaceship reminds me of futuristic processing on this track, from heavy industrial-drone leads in the middle all the way to the few final electronic beeps one might miss if they tune out the album too early. It features electronic musical elements that are alive, not empty. They are filled with the second element: Blues. You sense true emotional expression and even pain, yet possibly melancholic hope? That is what this album is to me. It took me a long time to review this album because it is not a simple feat. If one were to hear this album and dismiss it, it would be because themselves could not handle the self reflection. This current society has been running from its duty to understand where it is in arts and social history too much in popular music, and Spaceship Blues is the antidote whose sweetness is a coting for one to take a pill that if not bitter is at least melancholic to the core. At least that is real emotion and the type of production this generation needs. The road to heaven may be paved with a philosopher’s stone, and this is truly a masterwork that makes me look forward to the future: from listening to this album more, from seeing further output from Jason Pfaff, and from seeing where society including myself moves with culture and arts. The end of this paragraph ties with its start and a threefold reflection brought on by this album and presents itself to any willing reader of this review or listener of the album: Spaceship Blues."