Hey hey, Happy New Year! We're excited to be back at it, strapping on our Moon Shoes®, and joining Captain Seth Applebaum and his Ghost Funk Orchestra as they're set to land on the big cheese ball in space!
Enjoy the announcement video for 'A Trip To The Moon', pre-order the LP, and stream the lead single, "To The Moon!", today! More info about the album can be found below.
February 23rd sees Ghost Funk Orchestra blast off into new territory on their fifth album, A Trip To The Moon. In just over a minute, "Opening", the aptly titled first track, encapsulates a sense of what’s to come for those along for the adventure. Sci-fi synth waves build into the sophisticated sounds that saturated radios and hifi sets as the space race mounted in the late 1960s, culminating in a big band brass arrangement which catapults GFO into a new sonic era. The dramatic scene is set by Megan Mancini’s vocals on Eyes of Love as the story of a landlocked lover whose heart is held hostage by a cosmonaut ready for take off into uncharted territory unfolds.
By the 3rd track, "Where To?", we hear the signature element that iconically ties A Trip To The Moon together conceptually: the first of several sound bites from the actual audio transmissions between the crew of Apollo 11 and the capsule communicator at the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas in July of 1969 in the days surrounding Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landing on the moon.
Seth Applebaum, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s commander in chief who composes, produces and arranges the music in his upstate New York subterranean lab, has always had a latent fascination with space and space travel. Midway through penning the instrumentals which would become the backdrop of GFO’s fifth album, he became aware that Internet Archive had made the sound footage of those Apollo to Mission Control transmissions accessible in the public domain, which, once he started listening, gave him the idea of using that narrative as a binder for the music which was coming to life. The process became painstaking - the footage was filled with long silences, punctuated by surprisingly casual commentary on the cosmos. Applebaum’s commitment to the voyage drew him into a kind of historical tourism in which he studied film, photos and music from the era. He was struck by the gusto with which new technology was embraced in pop culture of the day, and honored that tradition in the creation of A Trip To The Moon, skilfully using a blend of digital recording techniques to cobble together orchestrations incorporating 60s & 70s analog keyboards and the guitar sounds reminiscent of early surf bands from the 50s and 60s. We also hear a nod to the 90s surf punk band “Man or Astro-man?”, who used vintage sound bites in their music, tying their likewise cosmologically themed concept albums together with clips from vintage sci-fi and B movies. This appealing device of using sound bites from films and tv shows as a container for a body of music was also heavily featured on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” radio show, to which Applebaum listened faithfully in his formative years.
As the 15 compositions which make up A Trip To The Moon took shape, Applebaum brought his now seasoned band into the studio with a new found confidence acquired by touring heavily on the success of 2022’s A New Kind of Love. On A Trip To The Moon we hear a departure from the clean production path of GFO’s earlier releases, delivering studio performances on which the players “let rip”, breathing life and their personal voices into the songs. Mancini’s vocals are once again juxtaposed alongside those of Romi Hanoch. The horn section of saxophonist Stephen Chen, trumpeter Billy Aukstik, flutist Mike Sarason and James Kelly on trombone is joined by guest Stuart Bogie who augments the lush orchestrations with his spectacular reedmanship. Will Marshall weaves cinematic strings throughout. The audio-montages are bound at a deeper level by an intangible quality which can only be described as the thing that happens when a band eats, sleeps and plays together around the world.
The uncanny thing to this writer, having witnessed in real time the 1969 moon landing on a big black & white TV which was wheeled into my classroom, is that A Trip To The Moon instantly transports me to that time, capturing and evoking all the feelings of excitement of being alive at that moment. Astronomically, 2024 promises similar cosmically charged breakthroughs and A Trip To The Moon will be part of the soundtrack to that era.