If you swallow a hefty chunk of the Hollywood science fiction fodder, you may be led to believe extra terrestrials don’t come in peace. Henge’s intergalactic alter-egos beg to differ, with a message of unity and hope through music that favours ET over Alien, R2-D2 over the Daleks and heptapods over big-brained Martians.

Familiar to field-based festival audiences and Manchester warehouses alike for their comic book theatricality and call-and-response chanting, the likembe-playing space ravers occupy a musical sensibility somewhere between Flight of the Conchords, Sun Ra Arkestra and Hawkwind. Their sets are packed with ten-minute stomp-alongs which their debut EP, Cosmic Dross, seeks to bottle and serve with the same intensity of sonic colour on wax this August.

We spoke to the band about their live shows under the Space Cassette umbrella, collaboration, the effectiveness of silence and summer festivals. Among them is Beat Herder – read to the bottom of the page to find out how to enter our competition for a pair of weekend tickets.

What motivates you to make music?

Physics.

What are the roots of your stage show? Are your main influences other musicians or other art forms?

We perform our music in the way that is most natural to us. For me that is wearing the formal clothing of my race, the Agriculans. When possible it is our pleasure to bring to the shows some of our travelling companions. For example, Talos 4000, the peacekeeping android, and some of drummer Nom’s many children, who like to dance to their favourite song, ‘In Praise of Water’.

How have the Space Cassette shows and community helped with your music?

Space Cassette is a most rambunctious event. The Space Cassette Consortium strive to create the ultimate conditions for the transmission of Cosmic Dross. It is the ideal environment to experience the music of Henge.

We interviewed Mothership Connection last month and one of their MCs, Goshin, mentioned Henge in a collaboration callout: “If anyone’s interested in space funk, let’s make some mad frequencies.” Can we be a matchmaker here?

We look forward to making sounds together with the humans known as ‘Mothership Connection’.

Are there any other ways you’ve collaborated in music or art?

During my five billion Earth years in this universe, I have experienced many joyous collaborations with sentient beings of many varieties. Every possible permutation has been explored. The group that is collectively known as Henge is itself a collaboration between me – Zpor, an Agriculan – Goo, a Venusian; Nom, a Xylanthian; and UmYumYum, a transfigured human. Each life form has creative mycelium that fan out across space and time. The music that results has infinite sources.

Can we demilitarise? How can protest music be effective?

How effective is silence?

How will Cosmic Dross on record sound compared with Cosmic Dross on stage?

In order to answer this question we have prepared a disc. Human beings will very soon be able to experience Cosmic Dross through the medium of vinyl, CD and digitally. This experiment is strictly for the edification of your species. You can pre-order the recording in question from hengemusic.com or from loveloverecords.bandcamp.com.

You’re rocketing around the rural festivals this summer. Have you attended any of them before? What can we expect from your sets there?

A festival is an extremely pleasing environment for the transmission of ideas. If the conditions are just right it can lead to the achievement of collective consciousness between humans. We set out to attain this whenever we perform, wherever that may be. Last year we had particular success in this respect at the following festivals: Bluedot, Beat Herder, Cloudspotting and Shambala. This is the reason for our return this year. However, it is also vital for us to include new locations on our Earth mission.

What will the universe look and sound like in 100 years?

This cannot be known.

We have a pair of weekend tickets to give away to Beat Herder 2017 festival, where you can see Henge as well as Kelis, Trentemøller, Mr Scruff, David Rodigan and plenty more across the long weekend of 14-16 July.

To win, simply send an email with ‘Beat Herder competition’ in the subject line to ian [at] nowthenmagazine [dot] com with your full name and age. The competition closes at midday on Saturday 24 June and the winner will be selected at random then notified over that weekend. Entrants must be over 18.

hengemusic.com

beatherder.co.uk

Ian Pennington