Space Force does not play smooth jazz. Their true genre, Jazz fusion, is easily mistaken for commercial artists like Kenny G (you know, your dentist office’s official soundtrack) but it deserves more credit with progressive artists like The Weather Report, Snarky Puppy, and even Miles Davis under its umbrella. Space Force: EP 1 celebrates what jazz fusion really is: a melting pot of rock, jazz and funk.
The Fort Collins six-piece instrumental group leans into their jazz foundations by putting heavy emphasis on melodic horns, interesting chord changes and solo sections that follow classic jazz templates.
As suggested in their band name, Space Force likes to maintain a cosmic, far-off aesthetic. The album title pays homage to a favorite space-themed episodic series, but they incorporate their spacy sounds below the surface in tracks like “What’s Going On?” as well. This cover of the classic Marvin Gaye song opens with free-jazz, incorporating ethereal sound effects transporting us to a distant, empty void. They then build tension by adding more instruments to create a wall of sound. While Gaye’s song was written in response to the unsettling political and cultural climate of the late 60’s and early 70’s, Space Force shows that this message can still be relevant today, highlighting feelings of chaos with their interpretation’s free-jazz introduction.
Space Force does a good job of not drawing their tracks out too long and refraining from sounding too jam-band-y. But with the exception of the free-jazz intro on “What’s Going On?,” the tempo remains constant throughout the album. Shifts in energy would elevate the flow of the EP from background music to a conversation stopper. Even so, Space Force: EP 1 reminds listeners that jazz fusion is legit. As Space Force embarks to distant galaxies of back-door two-fives and bebop lines, listeners are left curious of what conflicts the crew will encounter in their next episode.