Space Music: Ras G, Mr. Chop and DEF CON Radio

Chop is back. Now-Again Records

Space music is essential to life here on Earth, at least for me and maybe for you too. So let's open the pod bay doors, Hal, and experience a fresh dose of the cosmic.

Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program - Back on the Planet

First up, instrumental hip-hop producer Ras G delivers some deep, glorious Sun-Ra-infused vibes with his latest album "Back on the Planet." With albums like "I of the Cosmos" and "Down 2 Earth" under his belt, it's certainly not his first jaunt into cosmic territory. The album bubbles with chill, jazzy, psychedelic sounds, but also dives into throbbing beats. The Sun-Ra samples on "Natural Melanin Being" and the discordant bleeps of "Asteroid Storm" deliver the overall effect of an Afrofuturist plunge through a wormhole. Meanwhile, "Culture Riddim" and "One 4 Kutmah" crackle with funky robotic rhythms. "Back on the Planet" doesn't hit stores till Aug. 12, but that leaves you plenty of time to explore Ras G's music on Soundcloud and at his official website.

Mr. Chop - Illuminate

A friend turned me on to Mr. Chop's excellent "For Pete's Sake" a couple of years ago and I keep coming back to it. That album consisted of psych funk, jazz and rock covers of producer Pete Rock's greatest beats. It reminds me a lot of the Beastie Boys' instrumental work, as well as the trippy space sounds of The Heliocentrics (Chop worked with Heliocentrics mastermind Malcolm Catto on the album). But now Chop returns with the decidedly futuristic "Illuminate" album, due out Aug. 13. Jazz takes a back seat to synth rock and VHS-era soundtrack stylings on this album. The single "Bow Down To The Mutant" hits hard with raucous beats and robot totalitarianism, and I'm particularly fond of "Illuminate All Voltages," which packs a similar vibes with cinematic melody. Chop offers a number of mixes on his Soundcloud page to keep you occupied for now, as well as a free sampler album over at his BandCamp page. You can listen to the track "Building Blocks" right here:


Finally, DEF CON is more than just the world's longest running and largest underground hacking conference. Now, thanks to SomaFM, it's also a user-supported Internet radio channel full of delicious tracks from the likes of Boards of Canada, Tycho, Autechre, Bonobo, Blue Sky Black Death, Gold Panda and other fine examples of "music for hacking." Enjoy DEF CON Radio while it lasts, because the channel supposedly vanishes at the end of July.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.