Spiritualized – Lazer Guided Melodies

Artist: Spiritualized
Genre: Space-rock/Shoegaze/Psychedelic
Title: Lazer Guided Melodies
Label: Dedicated/BMG
Format: CD
Musicians:Jason Pierce – guitar (Fender Telecaster, Eko Rocket, acoustic guitar), dulcimer, autoharp, piano, vocals, Kate Radley – keyboards (Vox Continental, Farfisa, piano), vocals, Mark Refoy – guitar (Gretsch Country Gent, Epiphone Casino, Fender Telecaster), acoustic guitar, dulcimer, Will Carruthers – bass (Gibson Thunderbird)
Jonny Mattock – drums, percussion, dulcimer, Simon Clarke – flute, Roddy Lorimer – trumpet, Will Gregory – saxophone, Colin Humphries – cello, Martin Robinson – cello, Owen John – violin
Production, mixing – Jason Pierce
Mixing – Barry Clempson
Engineering – Angus Wallace, Barry, Clempson, Declan O’Regan, Mike Long, Paul Adkins
Mastering Engineer = Chris Blair

Spiritualized are an English space rock band. They formed in 1990 in Rugby, Warwickshire by Jason Pierce (often known as J. Spaceman), formerly of Spacemen 3. The membership of Spiritualized has changed from album to album, with Pierce—who writes, composes and sings all of the band’s material—being the only constant member.

Following a breakdown in relations between Spacemen 3 co-frontmen Peter Kember and Jason Pierce, the group’s bassist Will Carruthers, drummer Jonny Mattock, and guitarist Mark Refoy were asked by Pierce to form a new group alongside local friend Steve Evans, subsequently calling themselves Spiritualized. The band took their name from an adaptation of the text on the back label of a bottle of Pernod. Due to formation from a majority of Spacemen 3 members, a technical clause meant that Spiritualized had to maintain the Spacemen 3 recording contract with Dedicated Records.

The first Spiritualized release, in 1990, was a cover of The Troggs’ “Anyway That You Want Me”; the record heralded the official split of Spacemen 3 following contractual wrangles over the band’s name and its use in Spiritualized-related promotional material (initial copies of “Anyway That You Want Me” came with a Spacemen 3 logo on the sleeve).

Evans was replaced on keyboards by Pierce’s then-girlfriend Kate Radley for the follow-up single, “Run”/”I Want You”. A number of singles followed, before the band, in early 1992, released their first LP Lazer Guided Melodies, which had been recorded in Rugby over the previous two years.

The musical style of Spiritualized relies heavily on sustained ‘pedal’ notes and drones. Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase incorporate elements of the shoegazing style, drones and tremolo. The landmark Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space saw the influence of African-American gospel and blues beginning to show, while “walls of sound” modelled after the production styles of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson also made their presence felt. Such influences dominated Spiritualized’s next album, Let It Come Down, which included over 120 musicians. Amazing Grace favoured a more stripped down sound with the gospel, blues, and soul influences even more dominant than before.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualized

Spiritualized have released seven studio albums. This album, Lazer Guided Melodies” I am reviewing here is their debut full LP.

Lazer Guided Melodies was recorded by the inaugural line up of the band from 1990 to 1991, and mixed by Pierce in London in January 1992.

Initially released on two 45 rpm vinyl LPs, the album’s twelve songs are segued together into four colour coded (red, green, blue, black), cross-faded suites. As such, the album was included in Pitchfork Media’s 2010 list of “ten unusual CD-era gimmicks”.

Lazer Guided Melodies is unique in that it simultaneously explores minimalist music, and space rock while subtly using layered instrumentation and the sumptuous deployment of horns and strings to create textured and deep soundscapes. You might think it is all synthesizer, but it is not. Many of the instruments are the real thing, it is just that the amount and intensity of effects make it sound like it is all synth.

The album starts slow with “You Know Its True”, which is sort of a droning song, but has a dash of positivity with the lyrics and percussion in the bridge. Things gain energy with the next track, “If I Were With Her Now”. It still has a droning foundation, but that is the nature of this subgenre. Track #3, “I Want You” (one of my favorites on the album), includes acoustic guitar in the mix behind distorted electric guitar and maintains the energy built in track two. Track #4 simply titled “Run” showcases the bass guitar with an interesting bass line laying the foundation of the track. If you listen close you may notice that it almost sounds like their version of “The Wonder” by Dion without being a cover. I think it’s a fun track. https://youtu.be/UMyUhimWUxU
The following track, “Smiles” brings the energy down a notch briefly as a break to prepare for a slide into track #6, “Step Into The Breeze”. This is a very atmospheric track (not like the others weren’t. “Symphony Space” (track 7), and instrumental that follows its title as a prime example of Space-Rock or “space music”. Ironically it is my least favorite track. Track #8 “Take Your Time”, brings us back to the sound at the beginning of the album, but without the distorted guitar. It’s actually kind of a relaxing tune in a strange way. From that we slip into “Shine A Light” (track 9), which is the most psychedelic sounding track on the LP and segues into “Angel Sigh” (track 10), which quickly gains tempo after the first verse. It then slows back down for the second verse and back up again in a crescendo and back down again to finish. Track #11 “Sway”, combines space-rock, shoegaze and psychedelic to a full sound with a sweep effect to match the title. “200 Bars” is the closer on the album where you will hear a “count up” (opposite of a “count down”) in the background throughout the song. When the count reaches 200, a “normal” sounding song starts and closes out the LP.




One thought on “Spiritualized – Lazer Guided Melodies

  1. Knew I shouldn’t have clicked this but I did and now I’m all “Ooh win Spiritualized!!” and listening to them at 5am when I should have left the house half an hour ago.

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