Resound – “Black History”
Black History, a compelling medley in the unique Resound style, tells a story of struggle and hope, from slavery through civil rights, to the present day. The songs are deeply spiritual, overtly Christian in tone, yet sung with an intention for universality. Resound is coming from the African-American community of Richmond, a city with past and present systems of racism, in a country with past and present systems of racism, with the knowledge that their experience will speak to the struggles of all humanity.
The whole purpose of Black History is for us to touch the world. Our videos often show us singing, arranging, laughing, and joking, but we are very aware of what’s going on, and we want to show the world that we see, we’re here, we got it, shedding light on it, spreading hope, spreading unity. We can’t call ourselves Christians if we don’t do that. We don’t want to be Christians who ignore our problems.
– Mariah Hargrove, Resound
Selecting certain significant titles was itself a political statement: the struggles facing the black community in America today are real and as important – and in some ways exactly the same – as those addressed by the Civil Rights Movement, and the political and religious histories of the movement are inextricably linked: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian pastor. Gospel songs have a double impact and carry political and spiritual weight.
Resound took a chronological approach, not necessarily in order of composition date, but a thematic progression for narrative effect. The track opens with a few hummed lines of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Black National Anthem, a cornerstone of this spiritual and political tradition. The humming is intentional, to reference the quietness of slaves in many situations, undergoing the repression of music and soul. I Want Jesus to Walk With Me was picked out of a hymnbook when the group was on the road, a traditional spiritual to represent the darkness of slavery as a whole, in my trials, in my sorrows, in my troubles. The stomps that introduce the transition to Lay Down My Burdens carry multiple meanings, echoing the chain gang rhythm, and creating the atmosphere of an early church service. The song’s message and its uplifting melody offer a sign of hope, but by a future event, not a present reality.
Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand declares the roots of gospel music, the three vamping and expanding on the melody, clapping added both for syncopation and sound effect. Now we’re really in church. The medley is threaded throughout with dazzling individual performances, but the strength of Resound is always in the whole, the sound of three in one. Glory, the John Legend song from the film Selma brings us to the present, the present where the past is always with us. The men and women of the Civil Rights Movement were American heroes, a truth which can still be lost even at the highest level of government today. The song is mournful and aching, a declaration of hope colored by the stains of history. It’s a moment that shows Resound’s ability to transcend technical prowess and achieve an emotional communication that is timeless and rare. The journey closes with that February staple, a statement of power that is frustratingly as relevant as ever, We Shall Overcome.
There wouldn’t be a Spacebomb without gospel music. Its historical significance and direct role in the development of pop and rock has been well documented, but still underappreciated. Both in bigger genre progressions down to specific details like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a Gibson SG-wielding gospel guitar hero who directly influenced the Beatles. Gospel’s continued presence as a vibrant and complete music is remarkable. It has everything: melody, harmony, rhythm, form, improvisation, arrangement, an incredibly wide range of emotion and dynamics, it can be very complicated or very simple, it can contain experimentation, it has a sense of history, but is not held down by the past. Other kinds of music don’t have that range, that ability to facilitate technical prowess and still communicate pure emotion.
– Matthew E. White, Spacebomb
Celebrating a banner year of Spacebomb
In its nearly six years, Spacebomb has asserted itself as having a signature sound. “We are a house band,” we declared in 2010, “a unified crew of arrangers and musicians, artists, scribes, vibe-gardeners and business men who feel it takes a village to produce a record.” That has never been truer than today.
Spacebomb began as a record label assembled under a house band model that would go on to produce and release breakthrough debut albums by founder Matthew E. White and Natalie Prass. The music we made captured the attention of publications like The New Yorker, TIME, Sound On Sound, and The Guardian, which declared, “Spacebomb make albums that sound like a million dollars.”
As the company’s profile grew internationally, so to did the outside demand to work with our talented cast of musicians, arrangers, and producers. People wanted the million-dollar sound.
Spacebomb’s creative output has exploded and in response we launched the Spacebomb Group to oversee the Production work, Record Label activity, Publishing signings and Studio operation. Spacebomb Productions was particularly busy in 2016, lending our production team and house band model to artists and bands from all around the world. A few of those projects can be found below, with even more to be announced in the coming months including Spacebomb Records artist signings. We are immensely proud to have worked on and left our mark on this music.
(photos by Lauren Serpa)
Horns and strings for the album ‘Hang’ (Jagjaguwar) arranged, orchestrated, and conducted by Trey Pollard, with additional arranging by Matthew E. White.
Duets record ‘Gentlewoman, Ruby Man’ (Glassnote Records) featuring all cover songs sung by Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White, a Spacebomb Production, produced by Matthew E. White.
New single “Company of Thieves” for the UK-based artist on Columbia is A Spacebomb Production and released in the U.S. by Spacebomb.
Album ‘One Day All of This Won’t Matter Any More’ (Moshi Moshi Records) for the UK-based duo is a Spacebomb Production, produced by Matthew E. White.
Album production on Welcome Home (Barclay/Universal France) featuring the house band, string and horn arrangements, and cameos from Matthew E. White and Natalie Prass.
Monthly online radio show for Red Bull Music Academy featuring music and interviews. Hosted by Matthew E. White and produced by Pinson Chanselle.
String and horn arrangements for the legendary band’s new album, out soon, by Trey Pollard. Coming soon.
Swear & Shake
The new album from Nashville-based new Americana charmers, produced by Trey Pollard. Coming soon.
Georgie – “Company of Thieves”
From the East Midlands of England, to mideast America, Spacebomb is excited to welcome Georgie to the family with her debut single “Company of Thieves,” produced by Matthew E. White and mixed by Dan Carey (Sia, Bats For Lashes). Georgie is a fresh singer with plenty of business to take care of and a classic sensibility that belies her 21 years. This new track rides along a fuzzed out ‘60s guitar motif, a few Sly Stone “There’s A Riot”-era production touches create a moody atmosphere for perfectly poised lyrics. Georgie’s voice is an instant pleasure, cutting and sweet, searching and powerful. And all the hallmarks of the Spacebomb sound are here: warm, sinuous bass lines and rhythms, the right pacing and Trey Pollard’s skillful arrangements in all the right places. The result is a well-built, living song, suitable for modern times.
Each interaction between Spacebomb’s house band and an artist is a kind of poetic exploration, a relationship and dialogue steered by White’s knack for production and respect for the recording process. “Company of Thieves” is a hungry rock and roll beast of a track that shakes Spacebomb right down to its foundations, vibrating its organs and trembling its timpani. The old interplay between American and UK music traditions provides context for Georgie’s easy and heartfelt connection to the Spacebomb ethos: “It was a special moment that made me fall in love with making music even more, which I thought was impossible.” Next year she will return to Richmond to finish her debut album.
See Georgie on tour this autumn in the UK with Jake Bugg and Blossoms.
The Spacebomb Sound with Matthew E. White on Red Bull Music Academy Radio
Welcome to Richmond, Virginia: Every second Tuesday, 7-9 PM EDT, Matthew E. White and Spacebomb open up our famed studio space and broadcast our favorite sounds on RBMA Radio. With co-founder and Domino recording artist Matthew E. White, Spacebomb have created a mythical hub where Southern Rock and the Great American Songbook gently collide with sticky soul, cosmic jazz, and tropicalia vibes.
Since April, Spacebomb and Matthew E. White have been proud to welcome guests like trumpeter and bandleader Steven Bernstein, King Tubby protégé Scientist, jazz bass icon Mark Dresser, CCR drummer Doug Clifford, and producer and Foxygen co-creator Jonathan Rado.
Listen to The Spacebomb Sound with Matthew E. White on RBMA Radio, every second Tuesday from 7-9pm EDT. Episode 5 with Doug Clifford airs Tuesday, August 9th.
Announcing Natalie Prass “Side by Side” EP
On November 20, Natalie Prass will release her “Side by Side” EP recorded live at Spacebomb Studios, marking the first time back since recording her debut album Natalie Prass there. The five tracks are comprised of two originals, “My Baby Don’t Understand Me” and “Christy,” plus three handpicked cover songs. Pitchfork premiered the two originals today. Listen below, pre-order on iTunes, and read about Natalie’s choice of covers over at Pitchfork.