The ethereal soundtrack of an astronaut’s journey, portrayed by electroacoustic harpist, Grace Scheele

Over the past few years, Toronto electroacoustic harpist and film composer Grace Scheele has emerged as a distinct voice within the Canadian landscape, interweaving an eclectic mix of cassette sampling and electronic effects with a thinly-veiled irreverence towards the pedal harp’s traditional sound.

The landings EP was originally conceived as a live performance for the Aga Khan Museum’s Moon Landing Festival in July 2019, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. 

The second track on her seven song EP, “pomposity,” is an invitation to be curious, to wonder. To reflect on our spaceward ambitions and explorative nature as humans. Within the context of the Space Age, the moon landing was presented as a final frontier for innovation and exploration. “pomposity” taps into the American cultural narrative of the pioneering nature of manifest destiny as expressed in 1962 with President John F. Kennedy’s speech “Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort”, sampled halfway through the track. 

With this occasion in mind, Grace envisioned the journey of the astronauts on the Apollo 11 Mission. She had always been drawn to liminal spaces, the in-betweens where you can’t really do much but pass time as you’re waiting for an arrival or departure. 

The Apollo 11 Mission embraces that liminality; there is the overarching journey between here and there, but there’s also 48 minutes of radio silence in each lunar orbit and the 6 day journey in-between. Time spent separate, and in a way to us earthbound folks, every time the astronaut’s communication was publicly broadcast it was that slight peek into Schrödinger’s box to see what the cat’s up to.

Years later after her performance at the Moon Landing Festival, Grace had the opportunity to record the performance at Silver Street Recording, which became the landings EP

“I really wanted to stay true to the improvisatory nature of the performance, so I decided to limit myself to one-shot improvised recordings, with no overdubs, editing, or splicing,” explains Grace. “Each take was unique, but shared the common thread of sample choice, instrument, and electronic effects to some extent. Thankfully it only took a few takes for me to feel like we ‘had’ it, with the second take becoming the EP itself.”