In 1965, astonauts Ed White and James McDivitt launched into space as pilots for NASA’s Gemini IV. During their four-day mission, White and McDivitt would circle the Earth 66 times, but it was White on the third day who became the first American to exit a spacecraft and float in the serene immensity of existence.
For 20 glorious minutes, White lingered outside Earth’s atmopshere, seemingly weightless, tethered only by an umbilical cord of human engineering. He was ordered to return after 15 minutes, as NASA officials feared for his safety once plunged into the dark side of Earth’s orbit. He made excuses, said he needed to take some pictures, waiting until the very last moment to return to the ship. When he finally acquiesced, the record shows White called it “the saddest moment of my life.”
New York-based producer Beshken finds White’s story so incredibly fascinating, he wrote a song all about it, and “White Gemini” now serves as the lead single for his forthcoming debut LP, Aisle of Palm.
“White is an incredibly fascinating and heroic American figure who is unfortunately not known to many,” Beshken tells Billlboard Dance. “His explorations into the mysteries of the universe are often overshadowed by the achievements of more prominent astronauts after his death.”
White eventually died during a test for the first manned Apollo missions, but his legacy lives on in Beshken’s dark-tinged groove. “White Gemini” kicks an adventurous beat over internal moods. It’s steady and danceable, but there’s a quietness at its heart, a beat made for dancing alone. Those crackly bits are clips of conversation between White and NASA’s Houston comment center during his Gemini IV adventure and the Apollo test.
“Participating in space travel is an obvious risk,” Beshken continues. “One has to leave their entire family, friends, and past life behind to attempt to discover the unknown without any certainty of survival or success. I believe that the motivation behind space travel, besides the pure novelty of being where nobody has been before, is to push humanity forward both philosophically and technologically. In order to further expand upon some of the feelings I have about human progress (or lack thereof), technology, and the environment, I decided to write a song about White. A passionate explorer, he willfully distanced himself from both the stability that our home planet provides as well as the problems that it yields.”
There’s more conceptualism where “White Gemini” came from. Beshken says his 11-track debut LP “explores delirious happiness, vitality, and anxieties brought on by transitional states existing in both objective reality and dream states.”
“The songs are a product of my own unnerving experiences with sleep paralysis, and on the contrary, the exhilaration felt from many late nights fueled by self exploration,” the producer says. “Manic behavior can be brought on by lack of sleep, while often thought loops pervade the mind and prevent one from sleeping. Some people who have restless sleep can feel like they are floating, falling, and separating from their bodies before falling asleep. Others claim that they hear strange noises, voices and music as well as weird mechanical sounds like bleeps and bloops during these liminal states. What would these noises sound like if they were to be captured and recorded during these so-called hypnagogic states, and what feelings would they evoke? Aisle of Palm reckons with transitional states, not just between wakefulness and sleep, but within places, people, and ideas. In these moments, there exists a range of emotions.”
Aisle of Palm will see self-release June 14 via his new electronic focused record label 29 Speedway. Beshken will celebrate the moment with live shows on June 12 and June 14 in Los Angeles and New York City respectively. You can check the flyer for those shows and the full tracklist for Aisle of Palm, then dive into the depths of your own imaginations with “White Gemini” below, exclusively on Billboard Dance.
Aisle of Palm Album Tracklist
4. Grey Ghost
5. Focus On
6. Know Your Name
7. White Gemini
9. Golden Sun
11. Light of Love