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Ghost Funk Orchestra - A Trip to the Moon (Colemine/Karma Chief)

19 February 2024

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Seth Applebaum has fingers in many pies: old fashioned analog instrumentation, up-to-the-minute digital and sampling technology, cross-genre arrangements, an interest in American space history, and an unfettered imagination he lets run wild in his guise as Ghost Funk Orchestra. Using transmission clips between Apollo 11 and Mission Control in July, 1969, Applebaum paints a colorful aural mural on his latest album A Trip to the Moon. Along the way he amalgamates space pop, funk, surf music, orchestral film scores, exotica, and spiritual jazz into a brilliantly arranged farrago of memorable melodies and strange sounds on cool cuts like “A Solar Wind,” “Space Walk,” and “A Rare View.” Though Applebaum performs the lion’s share of the music himself, he enlists a well-place horn section and vocalists Romi Hanach (“Again,” “Casadastra”) and Megan Mancini (“Totality,” “Eyes of Love”) to enhance his vision. In truth, though, the stars of the show end up being the words of the astronauts themselves. As showcased in the dreaming, beat-driven “Achluo,” the joy in their voices as they walk the moon is not only palpable but inspiring, nudging guest bass clarinetest Stuart Bogle into some freaky flights of fancy. Part tribute and part re-imagining, A Trip to the Moon coaxes open the third eye, while glorying in the real life accomplishments of a courageous group of pioneers.