Space-y music?
March 5, 2006 12:35 PM   Subscribe

The Final Frontier: I'm looking for music with a sci-fi feel, the kind of music you might have heard at a planetarium display when you were a kid.

Stuff that has a sci-fi feel to me is generally (but not always) heavy on ethereal synth. Think Vangelis. Think Ray Lynch. Think the Cosmos soundtrack. Think "In the Space Capsule (Love Theme)" from Queen's Flash Gordon soundtrack (yes, really). I want to be able to close my eyes and imagine I'm drifting among the stars.
posted by jdroth to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
There's always the Dr. Who theme.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2006

Telefon Tel Aviv (warning: ginormous flash site)
posted by gac at 12:50 PM on March 5, 2006

Oh and also Air's seminal Moon Safari, although you should skip track two as it might bring you abruptly back to earth.
posted by gac at 12:56 PM on March 5, 2006

Tangerine Dream, especially the earlier stuff like Stratosfear or Phaedra always make me feel that I am floating in space. Hell, pretty much any of the electronic-y krautrock fits the bill for me.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:05 PM on March 5, 2006

You want Hearts of Space - here's a couple of links:;

There are compilations available from Amazon.

Also, download WinAmp (if you need an audio player) and check out some of the "ambient" stations at Shoutcast radio.
posted by Tubes at 1:07 PM on March 5, 2006

Get this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:12 PM on March 5, 2006

Your question made me think of Laserium concerts at the Fels Planetarium.

How about Brain Damage/Eclipse by Pink Floyd? Circus of Heaven or Arriving UFO by Yes?
posted by Fat Guy at 1:12 PM on March 5, 2006

Vangelis' Albedo .039 should be exactly what you are after.
posted by sourwookie at 1:31 PM on March 5, 2006

Boards of Canada.
posted by Napierzaza at 1:34 PM on March 5, 2006

The soundtrack to the movie Solaris.
posted by Miastar at 1:38 PM on March 5, 2006

how about the band Mogwai...some of their stuff is instrumental, spacy, if not a little too indie?? Sigur Ros is also a good bet.
posted by thatjackbuilt at 1:45 PM on March 5, 2006

Second Tangerine Dream. The soundtrack from Wavelength, specifically.
posted by TeamBilly at 2:03 PM on March 5, 2006

Boards of Canada.

As spacey as it gets. Also, check out Lemon Jelly.
posted by iamck at 2:06 PM on March 5, 2006

Dick Hyman (yes his real name), a Moog synth pioneer. The Minotaur!
posted by chococat at 2:22 PM on March 5, 2006

Jean Michel Jarre!
posted by teleskiving at 2:39 PM on March 5, 2006

T.O.N.T.O.'s Expanding Head Band
posted by speicus at 2:58 PM on March 5, 2006

"Oceania" from Mike Oldfield's Songs of Distant Earth just came up in the shuffle. Has that kind of feel.
posted by aneel at 2:59 PM on March 5, 2006

Space Invaders are Smoking Grass. Accept no substitutes.

Welcome to the Discotheque.

Cut the Midrange, Drop the Bass.

Power Pill Pacman and Humanoid Must Not Escape (early Aphex Twin tracks). Aphex also did a Star Wars Theme remix, but so has everyone else and their dog. Speaking of which, Mike Paradinas released some "Bantha Trax" as the Tusken Raiders until Lucas sued.

And my favourite novelty scifi album:
First Class Ticket To Telos
"Buckfunk" is the sort of music that Buck Rogers might listen to in a 25th century bar scene.
by "Buckfunk 3000" (actually Simon Begg, from the Discotheque track above).

The Orbital version of the Doctor Who theme. Mixed in with the KLF's Doctorin' the Tardis is probably A Good Idea.

Finally, there's the incomparable Mihon, by "Ongaku" (Ata Macias, Heiko Schäfer & Uwe Schmidt, recording these days as Ata, Atom Heart, M/S/O) from 1992. A sublime, classic early dark German trance record where practically every single sound is composed of samples from the original Star Trek series. You know, the doors, the teleporter, the comms, sensors, sickbay monitors, the shield, occasional phasers. Fooking brilliant. Drop this one at a party with anyone over 30 and they get this weird, baffled look on their faces until they realise what's going on.
posted by meehawl at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2006

Forbidden Planet soundtrack.
posted by jca at 3:02 PM on March 5, 2006

Ah, I see. "Spacey". Like, ambient. I was too excited to read closely enough.

In that case, Aguirre.
posted by meehawl at 3:05 PM on March 5, 2006

Ah, I see. "Spacey". Like, ambient. I was too excited to read closely enough.

'sokay. I'll check out all the suggestions, even those that aren't to the point. I love discovering new music.

I think it would be great fun to construct some sort of science fiction CD mix using some of the tracks you all have suggested here. I'd love to use songs that are taken from soundtracks and actually have bits of dialogue in them, too. For example, in the Flash Gordon song I mentioned earlier, over the trippy spaceship-flying-through-the-void music there are bits of dialogue about scanning it for lifeforms, etc. Or, one of the tracks from Blade Runner has Beatty (or whatever his name is) telling Deckard about the things he's seen. Also, if I can figure out how, I'll record audio clips from some of my favorite scifi movies: "This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."

I want eerie, spectacular, awe-inspiring.
posted by jdroth at 3:28 PM on March 5, 2006

Squarely at the intersection of Space-Age Sounds St. and Cosmic Contraption Cres. lies the theremin. (If you're unfamiliar with this instrument, which is played without being touched, think "Good Vibrations" or the soundtrack to "The Day the Earth Stood Still.") More info in this MeFi thread, and here's a link to a CD of original theremin music.
posted by rob511 at 3:35 PM on March 5, 2006

- Bermuda Triangle, from Isao Tomita
- Second the Jean Michel Jarre; especially recommend Equinoxe and Oxygene

Seriously. These three albums practically defined the genre you're asking about.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2006

Vangelis' "Albedo 0.39".
posted by solid-one-love at 3:51 PM on March 5, 2006

Isao Tomita

You know, I've been meaning to track down more Tomita. I love A Sea Named Solaris from the Cosmos soundtrack...
posted by jdroth at 3:52 PM on March 5, 2006

First one that came to mind for me is the Forbidden Planet soundtrack, although at times it's more drifting through the stars with a robot trying to kill you. And it's barely music. (I'd remove this after jca's mention, but i wrote it like 3 hours ago).
Along those same lines is Microstoria's "_snd" and "Init Ding". Spacey, but in a completely different way from Vangelis.

Disc 2 (Heavy Lids) from Techno Animal's "Re-Entry" is excellent spaced-out listening.

Nocturnal Emission's "Invocation of the Beast-Gods" is brilliantly unhinged.

Oval's "Systemische" and "94 Diskont" have a "someone's gonna have to put on a suit and go out there" feel. YMMV.

Datacide's (Uwe Schmidt again) "Flowerhead" has many beautiful drifting moments.

Horizon 222's "Through the Round Window" might be too housey for what you're looking for, but it's also very spacey, especially "Spirit Level (Lost in Space)".


Rapoon's "Raising Earthly Spirits" is right there, if a little dark, then again, so is space.

Christoph De Babalon's beatless "Opuim" is out there.

Nonplace Urban Field's "Chilled No. 6", although I can't recommend the rest of the record.

Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works 85-92" might work.

Fluxion's "Vibrant Forms".

The Fax label probably has a lot of stuff for this.

note that a lot of this leans more towards your "spacey" request over "sci-fi". I'm jealous I didn't think of meehawl's calls on Buckfunk 3000 and Mihon.
posted by hellbient at 3:59 PM on March 5, 2006

Oh, yeah - Also 76:14, by Global Communication. Very, very sweet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:06 PM on March 5, 2006

"Wireless Fantasy, 1960" by Vladimir Ussachevsky.

"Saturday Night On Saturn," by Les Baxter And His Orchestra.

"Poppy Nogood (1968)," Terry Riley

"Funny Illustrated Book," Nobukazu Takemura
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:11 PM on March 5, 2006

You might find Tomita's Mind of the Universe somewhere, recorded live at Linz, Austria 1984. The live recording adds something extra to the music, he had a speaker stack flown in under a helicopter part way through the gig, etc etc
posted by hardcode at 4:18 PM on March 5, 2006

Second the Lemon Jelly suggestion. Also try a group called Aphilas (downloadable here).
posted by greycap at 4:39 PM on March 5, 2006

I'm shocked and appalled that nobody's mentioned Joe Meek & the Tornados' Telstar.

You may also want to consider Alien Sex Fiend's Inferno soundtrack, as a number of tracks ("Human Atmosphere", "Moon Toon", "Bad News", "Space 2", "Alien Atmosphere") are close to what you're looking for; The "Sas Finale" track has a nice B-Movie vibe, while the bonus remix tracks are in keeping in the spirit of the old Laserium shows that some planetariums sponsored.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:46 PM on March 5, 2006

I'd love to use songs that are taken from soundtracks and actually have bits of dialogue in them

No doubt you've heard Strongbad on the subject of Techno?
posted by meehawl at 4:53 PM on March 5, 2006

I've gone through and listened to as many of these as possible via iTMS, Amazon, and direct-links. I've marked those that best match what I'm looking for with "best answers". I look forward to the input, and will continue to check back for future contributions.
posted by jdroth at 5:18 PM on March 5, 2006

Ulrich Schnauss
posted by scalespace at 5:33 PM on March 5, 2006

The Schnausser is good. Reminds me of lots of stuff on the old Rising High. Anything by Ralf Hildenbeutel or Oliver Lieb is class. And Air Liquide is a great group for atmospheric ambient.
posted by meehawl at 5:57 PM on March 5, 2006

Certain Portishead songs have a very retro sci-fi feel. The songs "Mysterons", "Wandering Star", and "Humming" exemplify it the most, especially "Mysterons".

I don't know if they're exactly what you're after, though. They evoke a pretty different sort of sci-fi feeling than what you seem to be looking for- if Tangerine Dream, for example, could be a soundtrack for a documentary on the wonders of the cosmos, Portishead is more like some dark, surreal, arty 50s sci-fi movie. Still, I thought I'd throw it out there...
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:13 PM on March 5, 2006

Try some Planet P Project for some '80s synth space rock "Static" is a good place to start.

I'll also second or quadruple or whatever Tangerine Dream, and I'll add recommendations for some of their '80s stuff: the album Exit has tracks called "Kiew Mission" and "Remote Viewing" that'd be perfect; there's also Poland (a document of a live performance in Warsaw, which is four LP sides each filled with continuous music), and the one that got me into them, Tangram. The "Song of the Whale" suite from Underwater Sunlight might also work.

It's going to be hard to find, as it's been out of print forever, but Amin Bhatia's Interstellar Suite is a synthesized symphonic suite that is explicitly about space travel. And you may also enjoy Synergy's Metropolitan Suite, particularly the track "Into the Abyss." (Synergy is Larry Fast, who used to play keys in Peter Gabriel's band.) He also did a film soundtrack called The Jupiter Menace that's pretty good, though the movie's crap.
posted by kindall at 6:29 PM on March 5, 2006

Other spacey synth artists: Michael Stearns, Steve Roach, Jon Serrie.
posted by barjo at 7:42 PM on March 5, 2006

Try some Planet P Project for some '80s synth space rock?

Heh. I'm a fairly big Tony Carey fan. You can bet there'll be some Planet P on there.
posted by jdroth at 7:50 PM on March 5, 2006

The soundtrack to Star Control 2 remixed and available for download.

Just one of the reasons that game was so fabulous.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:06 PM on March 5, 2006

jdroth, if you do whip up a cool mix, I'd sure love to get my ears on it!
posted by Tubes at 8:48 PM on March 5, 2006

Speaking of Tomita, "Arabesque #1" is the theme music to the PBS astronomy show Star Gazer, hosted by the ever-ebullient Jack Horkheimer. Keep looking up!

Maybe you'd like some music from someone who actually came from outer space: Sun Ra. He's made so many records it can be hard to approach his stuff, but you could start with Out There a Minute (esp. "Love in Outer Space") or Concert for the Comet Kohoutek. More here (with audio clip).
posted by hydrophonic at 9:20 PM on March 5, 2006

You can find a lot of material like this on the SpaceMusic Podcast.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 10:21 PM on March 5, 2006

Brian Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
posted by fuzz at 2:08 AM on March 6, 2006

I think it would be great fun to construct some sort of science fiction CD mix using some of the tracks you all have suggested here.

Why not extrapolate that further? Say, the CD comes with a manual that is actually a story, which is 'narrated' by each track...names of songs are chapters...

Fantastic thread, MeFi.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 3:35 AM on March 6, 2006

Portishead has some pretty weird sounds.
posted by heartquake at 9:31 AM on March 6, 2006

Klaus Nomi was brilliantly weird -- like a Weimar cabaret alien. His song that probably comes closest to your description is "From Beyond" (available on a couple of Nomi collections), though if you like discovering new and strange stuff, you may like plenty more. I've been known to weep at his version of "Cold Song."
posted by scody at 1:56 PM on March 6, 2006

Sorry, meant to include a link to the collection of his that I have. And while I'm at it, I'll suggest checking out the Nomi documentary, too.
posted by scody at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2006

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