|I've enjoyed the recent Spiritualized record, Let It Come Down. Masterminded by Jason Pierce, formerly of the 80's British psychedelic-minimalist band Spacemen Three, Spiritualized has a wider range, but is still founded in hypnotic layers of sound. I can't even really point to specific great songs, and a lot of their stuff tends to blend in my head, but the cumulative effect can be overwhelming. More trance than dance, their model is the wave rather than the beat. Their "spirituality" is that of the sinner who knows better, but isn't necessarily planning on reforming. They constantly work a metaphor of addictive longing, which makes little distinction between god, love, and drugs. I've seen them play several times, with mixed results. The live band took a while to jell, and one show was ruined by muddy sound, but the last time around they were stellar. Their upcoming show at the Beacon might be worth catching.
It was a cool show. The recordings are heavily produced, but the live band stands on its own. Three guitars; bass; drums; a percussionist with xylophone and kettle drums; keyboards; and occasional harmonica produced an impressive sonic density while retaining a commitment to the specific sounds of the individual instruments. The show was tightly choreographed to an extravagant light show with plenty of strobes. Pierce treats dynamics almost like melody, and the typical song works its way from a whisper to a roar, climaxing in a time-blotting blur of white noise and white light, where strangely delicate aural figures come and go like quarks in a quantum haze. Spiritualized has managed to synthesize a lot of influences while continuing to elaborate the minimalist esthetic of Spacemen 3. After more than a decade, it’s a rich brew. They’re both traditional and modern; historically conscious but not retro, and notable as a “progressive” sort of pop that’s not based in electronica and dance.