In the spring of 2017, West Coast indie stalwart Heidi Alexander (the Sandwitches, Pruno Truman), began issuing a series of highly collaborative, cosmically inclined EPs under the multiloquent title Earth Girl Helen Brown Center for Planetary Intelligence Band. Reviving a character first coined in 2010 by musician Sonny Smith from his ambitious 100 Records project, Alexander sought to cast Earth Girl Helen Brown in a similar group spirit, gathering together a variety of musical colleagues from the L.A. and Bay Area indie scenes to create recordings loosely themed around the planets of our solar system. Arriving seasonally on limited-edition cassettes, Mercury marked her first entry in the series, followed later that summer by Mars. Saturn closed out 2017 with Venus landing in the winter of 2018. In addition to providing a fun musical cross-pollination and creative logistical challenge, another aspect of this project was altruistic, with proceeds from the releases being donated to a variety of environmental causes. Across the four EPs, a cast of over 40 players including Ty Segall, Jon Dwyer, Shannon Lay, Emilee Booher, and Mikal Cronin joined Alexander on songs that mix spacy jazz, indie pop, folk, and eccentric lo-fi wanderings. Featuring ten tracks culled from those EPs, the full-length Four Satelittes, Vol. 1 offers a more concise overview of the project and a look into Earth Girl Helen Brown's zany vision. Sometimes warm and breezy, like the sunshine pop of "Earth Elevator," sometimes cerebral and psychedelic like the 12-minute "Oh! What a War," Four Satelittes plays more like an anthology than a well-sequenced record, though its unpredictability is a part of its charm. Overall, there's a lot to like and Alexander's many talents as a writer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and team leader are evident.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger