England - Full Moon 62 - 11/01/01
Let it come down
Hey, Mr. Spaceman! How does it feel to come down? Jason (and his astronauts) has come up with
another rather massive piece of music. Let it come down is the title of the opus, and 3-D-
soul-o-rama is the description for the musical content. Jason's still making phases at the moon.
The orchestral wide-screened music on Let it come down is simply a gorgous journey.
Ambitious, yes. Pompous, yes. Airy, yes. But nevertheless holding songs of swaggering strength
and thrilling pop class. Contrast is another keyword. Of soft-touch carresses and high-adrenalin
aggression. It sounds like he's had most of Pink Floyd's 70s catalogue for breakfast before giving
birth to this album (take Out of sight - which, by the way, will be the next single off the
album - and think the orchestration of Atom Heart Mother). After tripping off with and out of
the wrecked spacecraft after the demise of Spacemen 3 ten years back his cycle of releases has
stretched and twisted. Lazer Guided Melodies (1992), Pure Phase (1994), Ladies And
Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (1997), before really taking off instrumentally/orchestrally
by releasing Live At The Albert Hall in 1998. Here's another 65 minutes of highly orchestrated
(horns, strings, choirs) music.
He's still playing with fire; the album kicks off with On Fire. Oasis teamed with Happy
Mondays, but with brains, was my first thought. Spiritualized make things clear: this album will be
something extraordinary, beyond the plain. Do it all over again must be one of the finest pop
songs of the year, with a touch of Brian Wilson (ahh! I'm trying to quit namedropping, but, hey,
Do it again...), and also pop as the Boo Radleys (OK, last name. Promise.) used to be doing.
I didn't mean to hurt you is a majestic "marching" rhythmed song, and another of those cracked
love stories not sounding silly. Single choice Stop your crying is big-sounding but simply a
fine song. Period. But the album's masterpiece is Won't get to heaven (the state I'm in). A
mindblowing 10 minute epic. A pop steamroller, rising to loud and diving into the sea of silence.
I really enjoy his lyrics, his playing with words, constructing phrases and slogans. A bag of
bittersweet poetry and harsh wittyness (is that irony, or what?). Phrases like:
"Sometimes they say that love is blind, but I think that
dumb is what they had in mind...", and: "Sometimes I
like to sit around, I'm contemplating sitting round, and the life goes on I can plainly see, all this
common sense made a fool of me...", both taken from Don't just do something. Sounds like
a relaxed Spaceman. Been thinking. Making choises. Practising philosophical mind 'gymnastics'. Within
the same song he sings about flyng so high the sun melts his wings, and yet he can fly. Icarus, or
Peter Pan? Or simply Jason Pierce? He's had some downers, right, but he'd gotten over them. Or in
the forceful, up-speed rehab/dry-up rocker The Twelve Steps:
"...the only time I am drink and drug free is when I get my
drugs and drink for free...". Right.
Mainly a new crew of musicians this time: Thighpaulsandra (organs, pianos, etc.), Doggen Foster
(guitars), Martin Schellard (bassman), Tom Edwards (vibraphone, marimba, bells, etc.), Kevin
Bales (drums). Guitarist John Coxon has been around before. Plus almost 100 (!) additional
musicians (wood, brass, strings) and singers (gospel choir).
Okay, there might be a few layers too much of the violins-and-violas-and-trumpets-and-trombones, but
the nerve and the spirit (holy ghosts...) are intact. Plus some inbetweeen noise (but maybe not
enough...). Rock addicted? Pop narcotic? Get spiritualized. Let it come down is the gospel according
to Spaceman J.
Copyright © 2001 Håvard Oppøyen