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Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies Music Album Reviews

Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies Music Album Reviews
On their debut, Spiritualized seemed to emerge from the ether perfectly realized, creating rock music that was serene, spaced-out, and untroubled.

Spiritualized’s debut album, released a short time after the band had floated free from Spacemen 3, is a record both in thrall to rock’n’roll tradition and ambivalent about rock’s foundations in heaviness and grit. While rock’n’roll is a corporeal movement, the sound of bodies moving in time, Lazer Guided Melodies—which is being reissued on 180-gram vinyl—feels almost weightless, an astral take on the blues that seems to drift by on cosmic winds. It’s one of the most gentle rock records of its time, with spaced-out guitars and rolling bass lines tenderly nudging Jason Pierce’s vocal melodies along like a weathered stone rolling slowly down a hill.

As Spacemen 3 fractured at the start of 1990s, Pierce asked members Will Carruthers, Jonny Mattock, and Mark Refoy to form Spiritualized, with the second side of Spacemen 3’s final album, Recurring, serving as a Spiritualized record in all but name. And yet the leap in quality— and, indeed, clarity—between the slightly murky promise of Recurring and Lazer Guided Melodies, which was released in 1992, is startling. Pierce has said that Recurring was the sound of a band finding their way; Lazer Guided Melodies seemed to emerge from the ether perfectly realized, the work of a band utterly in control of their fate.

Lazer Guided Melodies’ effects-laden guitars and hushed vocals may have had something in common with shoegaze bands like Slowdive and Ride, who were then emerging onto England’s indie rock scene. But Spiritualized went further back for their inspiration: “Run” is a brilliantly rolling half-cover of a song by American blues guitarist J. J. Cale, while “Shine A Light,” with its chorus of “Lord, shine a light on me” and languid saxophone, draws on the gospel tradition. This song also demonstrates what a sharp songwriter Pierce can be, with two lines of perfect vocal melody gliding languorously about the mix.

In calling back to gospel and the blues, Spiritualized joined a long and storied list of UK bands, from the Rolling Stones to The Animals, who have taken advantage of—some would say exploited—Black American musical traditions. Like the Stones before them, though, Spiritualized succeeded in drawing out their own, very English, take on this music. Using quivering fuzz guitars, bass lines arranged high in the mix for melodic effect, organ drones and a wealth of echo, phase, and other effects, Spiritualized created music that was serene, spaced-out and shamelessly untroubled, the blues blissed out in heroin’s sexless embrace. “Shine A Light” closes with the kind of musical freak out that The Stooges perfected on Fun House, but it sounds entirely without venom, a bad trip glimpsed from the corner of the eye. On “200 Bars,” Kate Radley, who joined Spiritualized on keyboards shortly after they formed, calmly counts out the song’s bars in her listless English accent, like an admin clerk noting lines in an Excel document, while the music slowly pulses behind her. It is the perfect realisation of the band’s rock’n’roll/un-rock’n’roll dichotomy. And yet Lazer Guided Melodies is not entirely retro: the beautiful “Symphony Space” is a drifting ambient number that has more in common with Spiritualized’s contemporaries The Orb and Screamadelica-era Primal Scream than J.J Cale. 

While Spiritualized's third album—a noticeably heavier record—bore the mantle of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, it is Lazer Guided Melodies that merits the cosmic laurels, an album of hypnotic power that marked a high point in the British reinvention of American musical tradition.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies Music Album Reviews Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, May 03, 2021 Rating: 5

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