The Space Brothers – Shine

For a while, in the late 1990s, The Space Brothers seemed to epitomise dance music. They would appear, once or twice a year, with a one-off single that was just so catchy and memorable that you couldn’t stop yourself wondering who exactly these people were. Then, eventually, two decades ago this week, they finally appeared with their first and only album, Shine.

It opens with Your Place in the World, a sweet piece with trippy beats and heady vocals. This is not, however, a piece that would catch your imagination by itself in particular – you need to have a bit of a feel for what’s coming up already in order to understand its importance. It’s good – although some of the vocal effects are a little unsettling – and the vinyl noise particularly helps, but it wouldn’t grab you if you didn’t know what you had picked up.

The title track is different. This was the single that had launched their career just over two years earlier. The Space Brothers had already had their hands on some of the biggest Balearic summer hits at this point, and it’s apparent even just from the high portamento-driven pads that there’s something a bit different going on here. As it builds, you realise it has everything – the slightly (but not uncomfortably) acid-infused bass line, the clicking synth riff line, the huge drum builds, and, of course, that vocal.

The vocalist, for this and second hit Forgiven, is Miss Joanna Law, who was at this stage already a decade into her career. A year before Shine originally came out, she had appeared on Way Out West‘s seminal The Gift, and both there and here provided vocals that lifted the song far beyond itself. This is entirely brilliant, and provided their biggest hit, although it only just scraped the top twenty.

This is Love is next, with a surprise heavy sample from Jean-Michel Jarre‘s Oxygène (Part I). It’s encouraging to see that The Space Brothers have no shame in revealing their influences quite this openly, but it still comes as something of a surprise. It makes for a curiously understated track, with the sort of chanting that kept cropping up on dance tracks around this time.

By now, the tracks are mixing into each other thick and fast, so the huge effect-laden snares of fourth single Heaven Will Come should come as little surprise. Most of the other tracks on here star Kate Cameron on vocals, who appears to have starred on pretty much every trance hit around this time. This is one of the slower pieces, but probably one of the better ones on here.

After all of that, the guitar twirls and disco beats of I Still Love You come as something of a surprise. It builds into another bounding trance track, so whatever variety seemed to briefly be promised quickly disappears. This is not a particularly eclectic album, but it is one of the best and most coherent examples of Balearic trance to appear under a single artist’s name.

In amongst the other pieces, it’s The Light that particularly stands out. The lyrics may be a bit new age, but the vocal delivery is impressively commanding. For me, though, it’s the remix that blows me away – this album, probably appropriately, comes with a second disc, mixed by Paul Oakenfold, and featuring a remixed version of pretty much the whole album, and the trance remix of this laid back track somehow seems to work a lot better. On the main album, this is one of those pieces that builds and builds, with a lot of promise, but it never quite seems to know where it’s going.

But in spite of putting the wrong version on the main album, you can’t deny that The Space Brothers are masters of their craft. Forgiven, originally released as Forgiven (I Feel Your Love) in late 1997 (The Space Brothers seemed to be putting brackets on the end of all their singles for a while), you have to remind yourself that this would have been the difficult second single, following after Shine. It does share a lot of the same sounds, including the portamento, and even the same vocalist, but in many ways it’s a better song. Just maybe not the best choice for second single, unless you don’t mind pigeonholing yourself.

The Same Journey opens with another piece of Jean-Michel Jarre, the unsettling vocal sample from Zoolook. Having got that out of the way, it’s a spacious piece, with plenty of room for vocal acrobatics. Ultimately, it’s probably fair to say that it’s one of the less good tracks on here, but it’s not bad, by any stretch of the imagination. The bar is pretty high here.

Then it’s time for more portamento, with the third single, Legacy (Show Me Love). They set a solid formula on those first three hits, but ultimately I’m glad they deviated from it for most of the album. This is another great single track, though, and not a bad comeback after a longer break, or indeed a bad choice of single to preempt the album. It just does sound a bit as though you’ve heard it all before at this point.

After all that, closing track Beyond the Sun is anticlimactic, to say the least. Kate Cameron does her best, but she’s really only just repeating “remember” most of the time while another vocalist wails something unintelligible. This track would be filler on pretty much any album, and while it works reasonably well in context as a closing track, you can’t really see it ever fitting anywhere else.

Until that final track, though, Shine is an exceptional album – a now-timeless document of late 1990s Balearic trance, that while now somewhat dated, still stands up well. I don’t know where The Space Brothers are now, but I’d like to think they’re still sitting on a beach in Ibiza, and continuing to large it. Whatever that means.

Copies of Shine still seem to be floating around, here for example, but keep an eye out that you aren’t actually looking at the single of the same name, as there appears to be some confusion!

Music for the Masses 34 – 2 March 2005

For the second week running, the webcam was refusing to take pictures during this show. It did see a brief return of the Unsigned Act slot, with an entry from Subculture, and the many-talented William Orbit was the Artist of the Week.

Show 34: Wed 2 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: William Orbit.

  • Gotan Project – Época
  • Rob Dougan – Furious Angels
  • Depeche Mode – I Feel Loved
  • The Space Brothers – Forgiven
  • Energy 52 – Café del Mar
  • Apollo 440 – Astral America
  • William Orbit – Via Caliente
  • Peach – From This Moment On
  • Jean Michel Jarre – Je Me Souviens
  • Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls (DJ Hell Remix)
  • Subculture – Dead in the Day (Demo) [Unsigned Act]
  • Erlend Øye – Every Party Has a Winner and a Loser
  • William Orbit – Million Town
  • Kraftwerk – Expo 2000 (Kling Klang 2002 Mix)
  • Manu Chao – Bongo Bong
  • Erasure – Don’t Say You Love Me
  • LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk is Playing at My House
  • Wolfsheim – Wunderbar
  • Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme
  • William Orbit – Satie’s Ogive #1
  • Bent – The Waters Deep

Music for the Masses 20 – 7 June 2000

Apart from the legendary demo tape (more next time), this was the last of the original run of shows, broadcast on Bay Radio, Aberystwyth’s student radio station. It closed with Erasure‘s lovely Piano Song.

show20br

Show 20: Wed 7 June 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 13 tracks). A indicates A-list (9 tracks); B indicates B-list (2 tracks) and C indicates C-list (1 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks which were taken from my own collection (Total 8 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 5 tracks).

  • 1. Richard Ashcroft “Money to Burn” A
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Dubstar “Stars” (Way Out West Remix) R
  • 3. Moby “Porcelain” A
  • 4. Muse “Unintended” A
  • 5. Mo-ho-bish-o-pi “Hear the Air” A
  • 6. Maxim feat. Skin “Carmen Queasy” A
  • 7. Apollo 440 “Heart Go Boom” L
  • 8. Depeche Mode “The Things You Said” R
  • 9. Duran Duran “Someone Else Not Me” L
  • 10. Idlewild “These Wooden Ideas” A
  • 11. Limp Bizkit “Take a Look Around” S
  • [Advert Break]
  • 12. Air “Playground Love” L
  • 13. Pet Shop Boys “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus” R
  • 14. Dandy Warhols “Get Off” A
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 15. Jean Michel Jarre “Je Me Souviens” R
  • 16. Space Brothers “The Light” (Space Brothers Remix) L
  • 17. Paul van Dyk feat. Saint Etienne “Tell Me Why (The Riddle)” R
  • 18. Tom Jones & Mousse T “Sex Bomb” B
  • 19. Billie Piper “Day & Night” C
  • 20. Phoenix “Too Young” A
  • 21. Beloved “Loving Feeling” R
  • [Charts]
  • 22. Sonique “It Feels So Good” A
  • 23. Olive “Miracle” R
  • [Advert Break]
  • 24. Dum Dums “I Can’t Get You Out of My Thoughts” B
  • 25. Travis “Baby One More Time” L
  • 26. Erasure “Piano Song” R

Producer: Me. Waha! I shall take over the world!

Notes: Not a bad last show (well, for the time being). Pity my co-host never turned up, but there we go. The aim was to get in all my favourites from the last year or so, which I think I managed. Et fin!

Music for the Masses 17 – 10 May 2000

If you’ve ever wondered how real radio stations do competitions, the answer is that they make up pretend entries. When I was doing my Bay Radio show, I obviously hadn’t learnt this yet…

show17pl

Show 17: Wed 10 May 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 14 tracks). A indicates A-list (8 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 7 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 5 tracks).

  • 1. Bluetones “Autophilia” A
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Moby “Run On” L
  • 3. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” C
  • 4. Inter “Radio Finland” B
  • [Advert Break]
  • 5. Asian Dub Foundation “New Way New Life” B
  • 6. Duran Duran “Someone Else Not Me” L
  • 7. William Orbit “Ravel’s Pavane pour une Enfante Défunte” R
  • 8. Billie Piper “Day & Night” A
  • 9. Death in Vegas “Dirge” L
  • 10. Wannadies “Big Fan” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 11. Watergate “Heart of Asia” A
  • 12. Deep Forest “Savana Dance” (Sierra Nevada Remix) R
  • 13. Enigma “Push the Limits” R
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 14. DJ Eric “Desire” L
  • 15. Utah Saints “Funky Music” S
  • 16. Bentley Rhythm Ace “Theme from Gutbuster” A
  • 17. Chicane feat. Bryan Adams “Don’t Give Up” L
  • [Advert Break]
  • 18. Looper “Mundo 77” C
  • 19. Basement Jaxx “Rendez-Vu” R
  • 20. Dubstar “I (Friday Night)” A
  • 21. Sahara Hotnights “Drive Dead Slow” B
  • 22. Dandy Warhols “Get Off” A
  • 23. Gomez “Machismo” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 24. Space Brothers “Forgiven” L
  • 25. Jean Michel Jarre “Tout est Bleu” R
  • 26. Robert Miles “Maresias” R

Producer: None.

Notes: Bit rusty… Also, my first compotion. No-one entered. Darn. Fiddle-de-dee.

Music for the Masses 16 – 5 April 2000

Bay Radio spent its first couple of years broadcasting on a closed loop around the Aberystywth University student union, and my show was no exception. The main advantage of this was being able to raid the “Ents” (Entertainments) record collection and play actual vinyl from the early 1990s, which must have seemed a very long time ago…

show16plShow 16: Wed 5 Apr 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 14 tracks). A indicates A-list (8 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 5 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 6 tracks). X indicates tracks from ents’ record collection (Total 2 tracks).

  • 1. Planet Perfecto feat. Grace “Not Over Yet 99” L
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Ooberman “Shorley Wall” C
  • 3. Yello “To the Sea” R
  • 4. Dubstar “I (Friday Night)” A
  • 5. Oasis “Who Feels Love?” A
  • 6. Travis “Driftwood” L
  • 7. Jean Michel Jarre “Tout est Bleu” R
  • 8. Space Brothers “The Light” (Space Brothers Remix) L
  • [Top 10 Album Chart]
  • 9. David Arnold & Nina Persson “Randall & Hopkirk Theme” C
  • 10. Erasure “Dreamlike State” R
  • 11. Moby “Natural Blues” L
  • [Advert Break – part one]
  • 12. Rage Against the Machine “Sleep Now in the Fire” A
  • [Advert Break – part two]
  • 13. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” S
  • 14. Enigma “Sadness Part One” X
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 15. Death in Vegas “Dirge” A
  • 16. Clinic “The Return of Evil Bill” A
  • 17. Cypress Hill “Superstar” A
  • 18. Freddie Mercury “Living on My Own” X
  • 19. Donna Summer “I Feel Love” L
  • 20. Merz “Lotus” B
  • [Top 10 Single Chart]
  • 21. Animalhouse “Small” A
  • 22. Pala “Cat-Like Creatures” B
  • 23. The Simpsons “Do the Bartman” X
  • 24. Bellatrix “Sweet Surrender” B
  • [Advert Break]
  • 25. Pet Shop Boys “Radiophonic” R
  • 26. Sash! “Colour the World” L
  • 27. Ouch “Seen the Light” A

Producer: None.

Notes: Mmmm, well, deliberate bloopers of the week include splitting up the first advert break due to thinking there were 2 less than there were and inadvertantly playing the last Sash? single – which featured Dr. All Bran on vocals. Ooops. Odd show, really, as I had twice as much music as I needed and also rather a lot more other material. D’oh! Still, better too little than too much. No, other way round…

Music for the Masses 14 – 22 March 2000

By March 2000, Bay Radio had existed as an actual thing for about a year, and it was going from strength to strength. They still hadn’t quite found the strength to get rid of me yet, but the shows were pretty good all round.

show14pl

Show 14: Wed 22 Mar 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 13 tracks). A indicates A-list (7 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 5 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 7 tracks). X indicates tracks from ents’ record collection (Total 2 tracks).

  • 1. Ouch “Seen the Light” A
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Chicane “Don’t Give Up” A
  • 3. Beloved “Ease the Pressure” R
  • 4. Andreas Johnson “Glorious” L
  • 5. Merz “Lotus” B
  • 6. Supergrass “Alright” L
  • 7. Rage Against the Machine “Sleep Now in the Fire” A
  • 8. Madonna “American Pie” (Richard “Humpty” Vission Radio Mix) L
  • [Coming Events Feature]
  • 9. Planet Perfecto “Bullet in the Gun” L
  • 10. Fragma “Toca’s Miracle” B
  • 11. U2 “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 12. Big Yoga Muffin “Is that How You?” C
  • 13. Beck “Mixed Bizness” A
  • 14. Grid “Rollercoaster” (Album Version) R
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 15. Space Brothers “Legacy (Show Me Love)” L
  • 16. New Order “Blue Monday 88” R
  • 17. Asian Dub Foundation “Real Great Britain” C
  • 18. Jamiroquai “Half the Man” X
  • 19. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” L
  • 20. Moby “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” L
  • 21. David Arnold & Nina Persson “Randall & Hopkirk Theme” S
  • [Chart Feature]
  • 22. Electronic “Disappointed” (Original Mix) R
  • 23. Patti Smith “Glitter in their Eyes” B
  • 24. Clinic “The Return of Evil Bill” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 25. Progress presents The Boy Wunda “Everybody” L
  • 26. William Orbit “Barber’s Adagio for Strings” L
  • 27. Jean Michel Jarre “Hey Gagarin” R

Producer: None.

Notes: Excuse me while I blow my own trumpet, but what tunes!!! It definitely helps to know what the record library includes beforehand! Ooh, that’s better. Anyway, on the whole not too bad, including the return of ADVERTS!!! Thus I could roll around almost in hysterics while uncharismatic people rattled on about new launderettes opening soon to the tune of “Popcorn”. Never have I been so amused. Anyway… Oh yes, I also rather naughtily made use of ents’ record player to play some of their records on. “Half the Man” isn’t nearly the tune I remember it being. Also I had my first impartial feedback today, which was “You sound a bit like Simon Bates.” I’m still not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing, but so long as I don’t start sounding like Neale James. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, baby…