Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space FAT POSSUM
Jason Pierce’s pharmaceutical classic gets definitive double vinyl reissue.
Following the messy dissolution of drone kings Spacemen 3, J Spaceman, aka Jason Pierce, formed Spiritualized and applied a garage rock swagger to his previous band’s wall of noise approach. Their first two albums saw them operating at a cult-like level, but 1997’s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space proved to be a major breakthrough, both commercially and artistically. It was as though Pierce and his crew had discovered a whole new palette of colours to play with, and cracked open the lock on a treasure trove of vintage sounds apparently forgotten since the dawn of the 1970s.
The album’s title is murmured by a flight assistant on a long-haul voyage to Alpha Centauri, before the enveloping layers of the song itself smother the ears in a pillow of psychedelic gospel and Disney chorale like a gigantic cosmic lullaby. It segues into Come Together, a majestic, headnodding rocker packed with wah-wah guitar, horns and massed ranks of backing vocals, a song that shouts at the heavens and expects to be heard. These two tracks map out the album’s sonic geography, but despite being 70 minutes long, it never flags, and remains inventive throughout.
The highlights are numerous. I Think I’m In Love recalls the lush balladeering of Floyd at their most horizontal, before kicking into a wonderfully cynical call and response section. Electricity is another heavy groover, all Vox organ and slide, while No God Only Religion is an excellent freak-out, squalling guitars underpinning jabbing cellos and exploratory trumpet. And then there’s the slow-burning Broken Heart, which replaces the junkie romanticism of other songs with a genuinely moving vocal from Pierce against waves of Gorecki-esque strings.
It ends with Cop Shoot Cop, an extended swamp blues featuring Dr John, New Orleans voodoo meets middle England existentialism before dissolving into a black hole of noise. Undoubtedly, this is one of the great albums of the 1990s.