For Public Service Broadcasting, space is just around the corner. The London-based art rock duo of multi-instrumentalists J. Willgoose Esq. and Wrigglesworth use a walnut-veneer ’60s TV set, a rackety film projector, and on-the-spot looping to explore the black abyss without floating away. Together, the two are tackling everything from Sputnik to Apollo 13 on their new album, The Race for Space.
Public Service Broadcasting uses local projectors to toss archival propaganda footage on screens behind the band members that they pull from national museums. “It’s a relationship that’s been going on for four years now with the British Film Institute,” explains Willgoose. “We tend to get absurd suggestions for history topics from fans sometimes, too,” he laughs, “but we tend to carry our own sorrows most times.”
On their sophomore album, that means soundtracking the dark crevices of the stars. Each song has its own story to tell with arcs and instrumental characters, but the album as a whole maintains a cohesive plotline. “By the time you get to the last song, it’s made up of parts from all the other songs. It’s all tied together,” says Willgoose. This means returning to electronic terrain explored on 2012’s The War Room EP with vibraphone and banjo.
“Being space enthusiasts, we took the topic forward several steps in history towards the present day,” says Willgoose. “You always hear about how the Americans landed on the moon and all this stuff, but the Russians did nearly everything else.”
Guided largely by documentaries like In The Shadow of the Moon and countless library texts, Public Service Broadcasting did their research to create this sonic storybook of outer space. “I first started getting into the research by reading popular history books like The Man on the Moon or Carrying the Fire. I found a couple Soviet history books, but they’re hard to discover because all the information from that time was shrouded in secrecy,” explains Willgoose. “It was terrifying reading and watching.”
Leave it to the two of them to condense decades of history down into one compact album of dance-able magic.