Note: N.A.S.A. (which stands for North America/South America) is the brainchild of DJ/producers Squeak E. Clean (aka Sam Spiegel, the producer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs excellent Show Your Bones (my #3 album of 2006) and brother of music video and film director Spike Jonze) and DJ Zegon (aka, the Brazillian-born, L.A.-based Zé Gonzales).
Also Note: The average track on here features at least three highly-respected artists from the worlds of rock, hip-hop, electronic/dance, dancehall and funk (see track suggestions below for sample of featured artists).
Sound: The eclectic assemblage of artists makes for one big happy global music party that jumps from electronic/funk/hip-hop hybrids to more straightforward breakbeat-and-turntable-driven hip-hop to sensual indie rock with some hip-hop flavor to electro pop, electro dancehall and more.
Look For: The album’s intro is a great cut-and-paste soundbite collage that announces their mission statement of bringing the world together through music. It actually serves as a good introduction, unlike the average intro track on the average hip-hop album.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “The People Tree” featuring David Byrne, Chali 2Na, Gift of Gab & Z-Trip; “Way Down” featuring RZA, Barbie Hatch & John Frusciante
Medium Rotation tracks: “N.A.S.A. Music” featuring Method Man, E-40, DJ Swamp; “Gifted” featuring Kanye West, Santogold & Lykke Li; “Strange Enough” featuring Karen O, Ol’ Dirty Bastard & Fatlip; “Spacious Thoughts” featuring Tom Waits & Kool Keith; “N.A.S.A. Anthem”; “A Volta” featuring Sizzla, Amanda Blank & Lovefoxxx; “Hip-Hop” featuring KRS-One, Fatlip & Slim Kid Tre
Recommended: The bold, cross-genre nature of The Spirit of Apollo could have made for a disjointed, annoying mess, but the sounds all work together surprisingly well. Somehow it feels like a cohesive album and not a random mixtape. But while nearly every bizarre collaboration is a success, few tracks are upper-echelon standouts—most of these premier artists have done far greater work elsewhere. Regardless, it’s invigorating and rewarding to hear them all thrown together in this context.