Pure Phase

Fat Possum Records

Vinyl / CD available here from 25th June

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4

J Spaceman lifts off with the second installment from Spiritualized that floated though the nineties on a shimmering ship of drone and spacerock that still resonates today. The difficult second (fuck somophore) album lands in Wayne AF Carey’s balloon shaped hands…

What Jason Pierce said:

You can’t really compare this record to any other because of how we mixed it; in such an “incorrect” way. We mixed the tracks twice but I couldn’t decide which one I liked better so we said “let’s have them both”. Both of them were on tape so we spent hours cutting them into usable sections. If you run two things together in parallel you get this kind of Hawkwind effect (phase), which gets deeper as they drift away from being ‘locked’, so we had to keep re-locking on a bass drum every eight or ten bars and it took forever.

 If you listen to the isolated parts, everything is incredibly simple, the horns, the slide, all these little motifs and they lock together like some strange kind of machine. Something like Kraftwerk was the nearest thing in my musical vocabulary at the time. Great rock and roll music is like systems, it has its own endless cycle. Pure Phase was Michael Nyman, Steve Reich and John Adams, rock ‘n’ roll and gospel music, and it sounds like driving as fast as you can in torrential rain. I wish I could do it now, to mix things twice and throw it together and end up with this magic world. It was a thing that was out of our control and it just sounded better than we could have imagined so we chased it.”

Step back into the ‘Shoegaze’ years and think of the bands that were around at the time. Ride with their early soundscapes from Nowhere morphing into the psychedelic pop of Going Blank Again. Swervedriver with the crushing garage psych of the brilliant Raise with killer tracks like Son Of Mustang Ford. Slowdive with the ethereal guitar laden silk. The Catherine Wheel who were so underrated with the excellent Ferment. The even more massively underrated Pales Saints – The Comforts Of Madness. Oh yes and of course the marmite sonic groundbreakers My Bloody Valentine. There are loads of bands I could quote here but I don’t want to fuckin’ bore you. Spiritualized were and always have been in a field of their own with their music to take drugs to by a musician on drugs. J Spaceman was never a stranger to mind altering substances, which you can hear on this drone masterpiece. The debut since the split from Kember and going it alone Laser Guided Melodies was widely ignored as is Pure Phase all due to papers like Melody Maker and especially NME having multiple orgasms over Ladies & Gentleman We Are Floating In Space. Don’t get me wrong, Ladies got a lot of new fans on board and was a grandeur statement of genius from Pierce, yet to me Pure Phase was the transition of the J Spaceman vision which carries on and on.

Opener Medication is full of shimmering sounds and astonishing effects that has hints of the way forward for Pierce. You have the magic melancholia of the beautiful Slide Song followed by the crunching sonic blast of Electric Phase. It’s the narcotic drone that blends between each track that drags you in to a bit of uneasy listening that makes you feel like floating, especially on the instrumental All Of My Tears. These Blues hints at the future of his blues fascination whereas Let It Flow is just pure mellow gospel that nudges at the Ladies sound.

Take Good Care Of It is just pure laid back space drone that flutters with an array of instruments that buzz at your ears like a stoned butterfly caressing the lobes with a laid back sax sound, whereas Born Never Asked cranks up the noise a touch with some doom laden guitars backed with a grand violin sound that melts into your brain. Then the effects creep in on the drone epic Electric Mainline, with chilled acid tingling sonic landscapes. I’m getting fuckin’ flashbacks as I type! Lay Back In The Sun is just fuckin’ excellent and harks back to my days when they blew my mind in a sun filled field in Preston, drinking 20/20 and necking microdots… A hazed trip of dreams on the lush grass. Magic.

Good Times has that honky tonk harmonica vibe that ramps the blues up a notch and sounds like the Spaceman is enjoying a rare rock out moment from the spliffed out droned theme of the whole affair. Title track Pure Phase goes all drone again and Pierce excels in those weird warped effects that challenge your brain with that feeling of your imagined image of travelling to space in a minute capsule, shooting stars drifting past your craft in slow motion and exploding into a rainbow of sparks like a good trip. Spread Your Wings is just a joy to hear again with the lush strings, warped vocals and a feeling that’s so chilled out and beautiful it’s insane. Pierce is obviously having an opiate filled dream here wrapped in his cocoon of melting lavae which splits in the closer Feel Like Goin’ Home, a two minute drone like pot of futuristic early dub step ideas that turn into a beautiful piece of majestic space rock.

In my opinion this was J. Spaceman’s drug album extraordinaire. It floats, flirts with gospel and blues, drones, wigs out and generally sounds like the recently cleaned rusty key opening the lock to the rich cabinets of the Spiritualized vaults that follow. Probably the most groundbreaking drone album made in size and scope. A forgotten master piece reawakened…

Words by Wayne Carey, Reviews Editor for Louder Than War. His author profile is here



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"I'm a 50 year old man, and I like it!" A music nut from North Manchester. If it's good I'm on it. Most genres covered but mainly alternative post punk indie with a dash of hip hop stylee.


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