Spiritualized - Let's Get Spiritual
Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, 23 June 2008
Spiritualized, formed from the burning cinders of Spacemen 3 in 1991 when Jason Pierce and Peter Kember went their separate ways, have just released a tenth album, Songs in A&E.
Pierce is most famous as one third of Spacemen 3, known for some of the best drone guitar music ever and even better album titles, like Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs to. So it comes as a surprise to hear that they made that music for bikers. “What’s weird about it,” Pierce says, as rain patters on a window pane in the background, “is that you set out with this idea about who your music is for and it is never who you think it’s was for. We thought our audience would look like Altamont. We thought we would have these bikers with their jackets and that whole kind of thing and it doesn’t work like that. I don’t know who it was for and who it was aimed at, it just went out there.”
Compared to the previous band’s highpoint, 1989’s Playing with Fire, Songs in A&E is much more mellow, introspected and at peace with the world. “There is some kind of peace to this album isn’t there-” Pierce admits. “There is no real plan; it has all been the product of accident or emergency. It just finds its own place. Sometimes I try and make records that, when things aren’t working out, I know have worked in the past. I’ll try hitting the same chord forever with as much ferocity as I can, or I’ll try to mix in huge amounts of space – but it doesn’t work. You can’t just apply techniques to things and expect them to work. You can’t take all the techniques and ideas behind a Phil Spector, or you can, but you don’t make a Spector record. You can’t capture that magic, you’ve just applied an idea. There has not been any plan for this. It’s just how the songs sound right now. I write songs now that don’t seem to fit in that space the same way. They seem better and a little bit more gluey and dry, with less studio involvement.
“The thing about music is that it’s not an exact science. You can’t get people to just play that kind of note and expect to hear the same thing back. I said before, you can assemble a band of the best people you know who play music and get them to play accurately with the same sounds as a Howlin’ Wolf record, but you don’t get a Howlin’ Wolf record out. You get this weird elusive bit. Music is the bit between the notes, this air in it. That’s what you have to keep chasing; you have to keep going after that.”
Recorded in a small studio just outside Nottingham, where the majority of the Spiritualized band resides, Pierce took the album back to London to ‘get inside it’ and finish it. “The core of the band is the same, the same people who played on the last record. I think a lot of those people played on the record before that as well. I’ve kind of been lucky in that people are with this for the long haul. One of the problems with people in the past is that they expected something more; they wanted me to chase fame and money. I’m not really interested in either. I’ve got people who understand that this is a slow moving thing. And then we’ve got some of the gospel choir in again.
“These songs aren’t like a showcase for a particular talent. It’s not like I’m saying ‘hey, look at my singers dancing on my guitar for this song everybody!’ They are really quite brutal in their simplicity. Early on with Spacemen 3, I got this idea that if you hit the same chord with enough ferocity for as long as you could, it would become the most important chord in your world. I think this album more than any, starts with very simple chords and song shapes.”
WHAT: Songs in A&E through V2/Shock
WHEN: Out now