Space Rock

Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to...
The motto of Spacemen 3, the arguable Trope Codifiers for the modern incarnation of the genre


Space rock is a subgenre of Rock & Roll with stylistic similarties to Psychedelic Rock and early Electronic Music, characterised by lengthy instrumental passages, lyrics inspired by science-fiction, astronomy and space travel, Psychedelic and Progressive influences and droning or heavily reverbed guitars (well, actually, just heavy reverb in general). In addition to the above, many other influences both on the genre and of the genre can be found in bands from subgenres such as Shoegazing, Dream Pop, Noise Rock, Noise Pop, Krautrock, Ambient, Electronic Music... pretty much anything suitably druggy.

Although the style was developed mostly in the UK underground scene in The Sixties, the earliest exponent of space rock was the British independent Record Producer Joe Meek. Enamoured of the idea of space exploration and life on other planets, Meek produced the Concept Album I Hear A New World in 1959, which he explained was intended to, "Create a picture in music of what could be up there in outer space." Meek's fascination with the subject also came through on the Tornados recording "Telstar", the first British single to reach the top of the American charts.

The sound of the genre was developed by the early recordings of Pink Floyd and David Bowie's hit single "Space Oddity". Arguably the most influential space rock group was Hawkwind, who became popular in The Seventies and frequently collaborated with the science-fiction writer Michael Moorcock.

The Alternative Rock contemporary version of space rock originated in the mid-late 1980s, when British bands like Spacemen 3 and Loop pioneered the sound. The droning Space Rock sound was an influence on the Shoegazing scene as well (and bands such as The Verve and Spiritualized blur the lines between the genres somewhat), and gained an underground following in the 1990s. Bands such as Radiohead (pre-Kid A, and especially on OK Computer) helped push the genre closer to the mainstream, and more recent (and heavily Radiohead-influenced) bands such as Muse and Coldplay brought a more accessible form of it into the mainstream.

There is a considerable overlap between this genre and Post-Rock (much of which is influenced by this genre), as well as between Space Rock and other related genres such Shoegazing, Dream Pop, Noise Pop, Noise Rock (another influence on Space Rock) and Psychedelic Rock. As well, a few bands combine it with Progressive Rock or Heavy Metal.

Early Space Rock bands:

Alternative Space Rock bands: