One Thing I Love Today: Rick Rubin, EDM, and ‘Star Wars’ makes a crazy ‘Headspace’

03.01.16 2 years ago

One Thing I Love Today is a daily column dedicated to putting a spotlight on some pop culture item worth your attention. After all, there's enough snark out there. Why not start every day with one quick shotgun blast of positivity?

I don't own much in the way of EDM. It's just not my scene. I'm sure you look at me and think, “That's a guy who likes to really lay it down on the dance floor as just one small part of his aggressively physical lifestyle,” but somehow, EDM just isn't on my radar. I buy new music often, but really wouldn't play this sort of thing typically while working or driving.

So, yes, Hollywood Records and American Recordings, your fiendish plan worked. I picked up a new EDM compilation album executive produced by Rick Rubin entirely because of the thing that unites all of the tracks: Star Wars. All of the producers and performers on the album were given access to a huge library of sounds and dialogue from the Star Wars films, and the only real restriction placed on them was to avoid leaning on the John Williams scores to the film. This isn't like Mecca's old disco version of the Star Wars themes; this is a collection of genuine EDM that just happens to be built out hundreds of Star Wars sound effects.

Sounds goofy, right? And it sort of is, but that's the charm. It's a pretty silly idea, clearly designed to cash in on the current mania for all things related to the movie and the larger series. It's currently only available for digital download, with a retail version arriving in stores on March 18. I found myself playing it repeatedly over the course of the weekend driving around with my kids. They were onboard as soon as they heard the first track by Kaskade, “C-3PO's Plight,” which you can hear for yourself here:

Now you've got a pretty good idea what to expect from the album as a whole. GTA's “Help Me!” is built around Carrie Fisher's plaintive plea from the 1977 film, Jabba The Hutt's laugh provides one of several foundational sounds that turn into the actual beats of “Force” by TroyBoi, and Claude VonStroke (featuring Barry Drift) turns in a silly footstomper with lyrics like “Han shot first and Greedo never shot his gun/Leia talks to R2, Please help me, Obi-Wan/Luke lost his hand but a Jedi doesn't need one/But R2 knows Luke is really Darth Vader's son.”

You can guess what sorts of sounds you'll hear on tracks like “Bounty Hunters” by Röyksopp or “R2 Where R U?” by Flying Lotus. Almost every single one of the producers involved use R2s chirps and whistles in some way, but the more you listen, the more you pick up other things that are bouncing around in there, and the Star Wars nerd in me finds the entire thing fascinating, like a really big game of “Find the sound effect”. I don't know a single one of the artists involved aside from Rick Rubin, but it's a sonically rich and dense album, and any compilation that includes a track called “EWOK PUMPP” is okay with me.

For those of you who are score fanatics, and I have to assume at least some of you are if you're reading this, then you might pick this album up purely to own “Jabba Flow: Rick Rubin Re-Work (featuring A-Trak)” by Shag Kava, which is built around the tune written by JJ Abrams and Lin-Manuel Miranda for The Force Awakens. That track wasn't on the soundtrack album for the film, though. Only the John Williams score. While this is definitely a reworking, it does use the original track as part of the piece, and is the only way to get any of it at this point.

I'm not sure how long I'll listen to it, because in the end, it's still an hour or so of EDM, but it was a delightful soundtrack to a busy weekend, and all of the small surprises built into it should make it something that any Star Wars fan will be able to easily enjoy.

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