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The Spacer, a winning combination of classical and electronica (Includes interview)

Finnish-born Tapio Kangas met American Norman Hall when he was studying for a music and marketing degree in the US in the mid-1980s. Although Kangas came from a classical background and Hall was a rock fan, the two instantly hit it off and began writing music together.

Calling themselves The Spacer, the ambitious pair created an exciting soundscape, drawing inspiration from a variety of genres, until 1993 when Kangas returned to Finland to do his military service. After that he found success in his native country writing music for television and hosting his own TV show before eventually settling in London.

“We were both in separate projects and they had the same producer, Tony Cook,” remembers Norman, speaking to me from his home on the border of Maryland and West Virginia. “It was in 1985 and somewhere along the line, Tony mentioned to both of us that it might be a good idea if we collaborated.

“So I drove up to Clarion, Pennsylvania, where Tapio was going to college, and we hit it off immediately and wrote ‘Carousel.’ I still think that’s one of the best songs we’ve ever written and it was the first one. I would say there was a chemistry there right from the start.”

“We were both really big sci-fans,” interjects Tapio, “so that’s how the name came about. ‘Spacer’ actually means a space pilot and we got it from an Isaac Asimov novel.”

The new album, produced by Mark “Tufty” Evans, is called The Artefact and the first single to be released from it is “Creature,” a duet with Peter Cox of Go West fame. R&B legend Chaka Khan and ’80s icon Nik Kershaw have also agreed to lend their considerable talents to the project.

If all that wasn’t enough, Tapio and Norman, friends now for the best part of three decades, have started collaborating and sharing ideas again, this time via the Internet.

“We’ve done five songs so far,” explains Tapio, who also confirmed the participation at some stage of the aforementioned Chaka Khan and Nik Kershaw, “and as we speak we’re adding more people. Unfortunately I can’t reveal all the names, but it’s a very interesting mixture.”

On the subject of the fairly convoluted theme, the Finn states, “Obviously it’s quite a complex story, but back in the mid-’80s we were really concerned about nature and the state of the world. So the story is basically about these extraterrestrial beings being worried about the state of humanity.

“The songs are set in the future about 30 years from now. Climate change has taken it’s toll and London has flooded. A girl and her race are sent to save Earth and their ultimate mission is to write a song which will subconsciously change people’s perception of nature and life itself.”

“We did something five or six years ago, but yeah it’s been a while,” continues Tapio, commenting on the amount of time that’s passed since he and Norman worked together. “But I think the magic is still there…”

“It’s fascinating to me that we won’t communicate for years,” agrees Norman, a qualified pyschologist, “but then we get back together and it’s like where we left off. It’s a pretty cool thing.”

The Artefact is The Spacer‘s second LP (Norman believes he and his friend have written enough material over the years to fill at least 10 albums) and I wondered how it differed from the first.

“The fact that it has a guest artist on each song, that’s going to make it quite different,” muses Tapio. “Back in the ’70s there was a concept album called War of the Worlds and a lot of people have been making references to that.

“It’s kind of a similar thing, but I wasn’t really aware of it… Basically, it’s in three parts and this is the first part, the first album of the story. It’s an ongoing project and there’s also a film script which we’re going to pursue separately.”

Finally, I was keen to know which other tracks might be released on their own. “The next single is probably going to be a song called “Alien,” reveals Tapio, “and that’s a bit heavier than ‘Creature.’ It’s got dance beats, some guitars and even some spaceship sounds in the background. It sounds very mechanical, I guess.”

The Artefact is tentatively slated for an Autumn 2016 release.

For more information, visit The Spacer’s official Facebook page.

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