What’s a Space Opera? Brooklyn band COLOR Explains

Photo Credit: John Saponara
Photo Credit: John Saponara

Always Something, Never Nothing

by Matthew D’Abate

It’s not every day you get to go to a space opera.

COLOR, a Brooklyn based art-pop band, decided, somehow, it would be in their best interest to do a space opera. Admittedly, right when one even mentions the words ‘space opera’, the general person is inclined to perk up, and ask: “What the hell is a space opera and where can I see it?”

The actual performance of COLOR’s ambitious decision to put on ISON: A Space Opera, happened at the famed Sideshow Gallery July 17th and 18th of 2014. Highly attended, jam packed full, the opera went off without a hitch. The room was steeped in sweat from the lack of windows. But then again, you are watching a love song created for a comet, so I suppose the heat goes hand in hand.

Photo Credit: Joe Pasciscia

The story goes as follows. Svetlana Chirkova, the drummer of COLOR and progenitor of ISON: A Space Opera, had gotten wind of the arrival of the supposed “comet of the century” that would glow “brighter than the full moon” back in 2012. Everyone (well, anyone who cares about comets) trembled with excitement from the arrival of this comet careening towards Earth. But on its way back from the revolution around the sun, ISON, the comet, disintegrated.

Soon after, the public turned. In the news, the comet was disgraced and scoffed at by the common public, considering it a ‘failure’ to not survive the curve. Well, Svetlana Chirkova didn’t like that. So now ISON: A Space Opera, has come into the world.

The songs are both apocalyptic and vulnerable. But no matter what proclivities the audience may have assumed, no one left the gallery without a feeling of a strange eternal peace—as if ISON: A Space Opera, was some funeral song, a granting of passage for a careening and doomed star.

COLOR, the band itself, already borders on Talking Heads talent. They bring a kind of left-brain, left field type of logic to songs. You know them both by ear, but are still strangers, and enticing ones at that, with all the charm of attraction and resistance that makes any date interesting.

Photo Credit: Joe Pasciscia

Fronted by Mike Blain’s esoteric and endlessly poetic lyrics, backed by the strong bass of Kristin Dombek, glittered by Randy Miller’s lead guitar, and topped by Svetlana Chirkova’s primal drumming, the band is already a cosmic experience, let alone one that needed a celestial kind of ceremony.

But ISON: A Space Opera isn’t about glory. This is not something you can find at a rock club in Bushwick. ISON: A Space Opera, like the comet it exalts, only happened once. The real future of this mixed media theater (yes, they had actors on stage, playing both a Sociologist and Physicist commenting logically on ISON’s remarkable trajectory there on stage) is undetermined.

Perhaps those who claim to love true and powerful art will bring the experience of ISON: A Space Opera, to their own community.

A love song is a love song, sorrowful and idealistic. But like any great love affair, it is always nice just to be invited.

Photo Credit: Joe Pasciscia
Photo Credit: Joe Pasciscia

Listen to my full interview with COLOR, regarding the odd journey of creating a space opera and the people that brought it to its fruition:



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