Public Service Broadcasting: The Race For Space - CD review

Retelling the story of the American/Soviet space race of 1957–1972 using hard-to-come-by access to the British Film Institute’s archive on the subject, Public Service Broadcasting’s The Race For Space is a collection of potent widescreen sonic paintings liberally studded with snatches of some of the most evocative broadcasts ever transmitted.

Fans of PSB’s 2013 debut Inform – Educate – Entertain will immediately be at home with this collection of propulsive, atmospheric and occasionally dancefloor-worthy pieces.

The PSB modus operandi continues to be a kind of well-supervised collision between Kraftwerk and The Orb (if neither had a phobia of guitars) – consequently The Race For Space is quite short on actual songs, but long and luxurious on evocative soundscapes.

From the wordless-choir-plus-JFK of the opening title track, through the genteel chillout-tent beats of Sputnik to the weightlessness of Valentina, The Race For Space is a more insistent and coherent proposition than ‘instrumentals-plus-scratchy-old-voice-recordings’ might at first seem.

And while it’s not the toughest challenge you could present to your set-up, without wide, deep and well-defined soundstaging The Race For Space could sound a bit of a mess. Timing is crucial too, plus an explicit midrange is required to fully appreciate all that history.

  • Duration 43m 32s
  • Standout track Go! One of the few overtly punchy parts of the album, and none the poorer for it.

Kob began his career at What Hi-Fi?, starting in the dusty stockroom before rising up the ranks to join the editorial and production team as the Buyer’s Guide editor. Experienced in both magazine and online publishing, he now runs the TV & audio section at Trusted Reviews where he keeps a beady eye on all the latest comings and goings in the hi-fi and home cinema market.