My introduction to Chris From Space was the remix album Alternate Dimension, released in early 2019, and when I first listened to it, I really had no idea what to make of it. I said in the review that it was not easy listening, but it was worth it to go along for the ride. But that was an album of remixes – I expected it to be a little strange. Then I was sent Chris From Space’s newest album, Airy On A Grande, and any expectations I had immediately went out the window.
It’s as if Albert Camus quit Mr. Bungle, popped a few medicinal gummies, and decided to turn Dadaism into a branch of electro synth pop.
Grande plays like a sampler of sorts, comprised of new material, as well as songs that, for whatever reason, did not make it onto prior releases. The album starts with “Showtime,” an “introduction track” of sorts, complete with a carnival barker-esque announcer and music sounding like Mega Man opening for Parliament. This will not be the weirdest moment. The first full song on the album (oddly enough typically used as a show closer) is “Somebody’s Gonna Getcha,” clocking in at 6:04 of exquisite paranoia in song form. “SlapDash” sounds like the song that haunts Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh’s nightmares. “Tractor Beam” was described by Chris (From Space) as his “attempts at 50’s doo-wop ballad.” The immediate silliness of it belies the underlying sweetness – he wrote the song for his daughter.
The nearly 8-minute instrumental “Everything Is Going to be Fine” was the direct result of a Terrence McKenna-inspired “heroic dose” of magic mushrooms, recorded live in one take following the mind-expanding trip. Another song that feels like a trip, the ambient acoustic “Ghost,” takes the album on a darker, quieter path, showing more of Chris From Space’s range in songwriting and performance.
Airy On A Grande is a weird, wonderful album. Like Alternate Dimension before it, it’s not easy listening. The whole Chris From Space ethos seems to be, “Let’s be as weird as we possibly can, for the sake of being weird, but also be so damn authentic about it that it doesn’t matter if people write it off,” and I for one appreciate it. You can’t release this album and not mean it, and that bare honesty comes through.
So sit down with your libation of choice and dig on Airy On A Grande. You can thank me later.
Release Date: 11/15/19
2. You Don’t Know
3. Somebody’s Gonna Getcha
5. Tractor Beam
6. Make a Getaway
7. Everything Is Going to be Fine
10. We’re the Same