Hybrid Spirits, Astral Whispers - album review

This is a listening experience with a difference that will have the unique accolade of linking music lovers, scientists and astronomers in delight.

The album cover
The album cover

Unsigned act Hybrid Spirits have links to Walsall, Great Barr and Wolverhampton, but their spectrum spreads much further than that, touching the far reaches of the universe with its scope.

In a recent The Ticket Unsigned column, vocalist Voodoo Jade - a former University of Wolverhampton student and Walsall resident now living in Sutton Coldfield - told us that they had barely even met when putting this debut record together. That out-of-this-world vibe is increased when considering that it was mostly three people working remotely using computers and other recording equipment.

'Mostly done on Skype', this started with NASA. The space agency's boffins recorded sound waves from the planets during various space missions and subsequently released them as audio tracks on their website. Voodoo Jade's bandmates Nigel Rooke and Paul Kirk - with ties to Great Barr and Tamworth - took these and developed them into musical tracks.

The result is this - 10 songs each named after a different planet.

The sound is very striking, it's like Kraftwerk giving you a tour of a planetarium without speaking. Deep, booming bass and rising and falling synths. Hushed vocals drifting at you from a corner of your consciousness. Electronic whizzes and flicks. A sound that feels much bigger than you.

(Neptune) The Ocean In The Sky captures most of this excellently and is a good starting point for their idea. The longest track - going over 13 minutes - don't let that put you off. It's like floating through deep space on your own, watching everything drift past. Think of the long flights between the planets on cult hit video game No Man's Sky.

And (Venus) Morning Star has much more of a warning to it, like you are not welcome here. The shuffling beats powering the track are like a subconscious warning sign, while scanners flit across your brain in the background.

Easily the best track is the sprawling (Earth) Home. Relaxing in its construction, lazy electronics meet with the sounds that creep into modern life. It is a fitting reconstruction of our planet in a song.

And there are uplifting moments too such as the funky (Saturn) Dancing In The Midnight Sky. The staccato electronic percussion holds Voodoo Jade's vocals aloft in a track sounding part Moby, part Chemical Brothers.

Rating: 7/10

Astral Whispers is available to hear on Spotify and purchase on Bandcamp. For more on the band, follow @SpiritsHybrid on Twitter

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