Another of those oh-so-unlikely musical combinations that they actually ought to be expected as part for the course took place when Sydney, AU producer Katalyst and soulful London, UK singer Steve Spacek combined to form the Space Invadas duo. The latter is arguably the better known of the two, having previously collaborated with a plethora of hip-hop artists such as Common, Mos Def and Slum Village just to name a few. If you heard a crooner you didn’t recognize on a rap track but thought he sounded like a vintage soul singer from the 1970’s, it may have been Spacek.
As it turns out that’s the very sound of R&B rock ‘n soul that best defines the Space Invadas. Though their name borrows from a video game that first came out in 1978, their sound is vintage early 70’s in every respect. If you blindfolded someone and played them a Motown record from the same era and then played the first four tracks from the Space Invadas EP, they’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. The titular “Done It Again” is all organs, bass and funk. If you didn’t know better you’d think Katalyst had simply looped a song straight off the “Superfly” soundtrack, right down to the “wah wah” guitar sound – even more easily picked out in the accompanying instrumental. The EP also offers both a regular and unadorned version of “Imaginist,” which is the Curtis Mayfield track that Pharrell always wanted to do but has never quite achieved. It’s actually a bit unnerving how close the song is to that stirring falsetto which became THE voice of blaxploitation.
It’s only in the EP’s latter half that the Space Invadas start to move away from sounding like clones of their funky predecessors and start to truly emerge from the cocoon. The Katalyst remix of “Done It Again” flips the script and finds the tandem now sounding like N*E*R*D as opposed to Pharrell sounding like them. “Life” featuring Jade Macrae is a slick two-stepping track that’s heavy on percussion and screams for a John Legend cameo. There’s not one to oblige you, but the “FBI Remix” and “Around the Bend Remix” offer interesting different takes on the song, the latter taking the Space Invadas into a sci-fi territory that their name implied in the first place. This is hip-hop in the same way that a Parliament/Funkadelic record is hip-hop, and if you can get down with that then the Space Invadas got a bomb or two to drop on you.