Spiritualized Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
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Spiritualized’s magnum opus begins with the electronic voice of a woman saying the title of the album, and then -- silence. Before the song begins, the listener is treated to 7 seconds of nothing, a moment of silence to both reflect on the album’s title and at the same time be transported to the abyss of space, and for a moment the listener is actually floating in space, looking back at mother Earth, distant. Everything is stationary and peaceful, and when the music slowly fades in, the illusion is not disrupted. The synthesizer is light and airy, there are occasional beeps and blips, the vocals are monotonous. The song goes out of its way to avoid revealing any emotion. If you close your eyes, you can see the image that is painted by the song: an astronaut orbiting around his homeworld, floating, looking through a window while Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” plays in a speaker. The astronaut sings along, solemnly, thinking about someone at home that he desperately wants to be with, and he feels the cold pain of isolation. Then “Come Together” comes on, and its like plummeting back to earth, horns blazing as the listener crashes back into the atmosphere. Jason Pierce snarls in your ear in a voice entirely different than what you heard just 20 seconds ago, and despite the song’s title, it feels like everything is actually falling apart as instruments come and go in a tempoless tempest. “Come Together” and the title track effectively show the album’s two extremes: the solemn astronaut versus the anarchy and fire that rages inside of Pierce. And the most amazing part of this album is how Spiritualized emulate both sides of the coin so well. “All Of My Thoughts” begins sedated, a whisper that breathes and fluctuates, and then explodes into a fanfare for about 30 seconds before resuming its sober state, only to crash again into crazy mode, rinse and repeat. The album is often wrongly labeled as “what it sounds like to float in space,” when its really more “what it sounds like to be bipolar.” In the album’s 70 minute run, as advertised on the cover, there is hardly a minute that cannot be put into either the restrained or riot category. Resisting the bad feelings vs. letting them in. Pierce has succeeded in creating a schizophrenic album, and the effect is incredible. There is the song “Electricity,” a favorite of mine from the album, that shakes and rocks and threatens to run off the rails, followed immediately by “Home of the Brave,” which is the most emotionally revealing song of the album with Pierce confessing “I don’t even miss you, but that’s because I’m f**ked up.” Chaos vs. Control. The album’s theme reaches its climax with “Cop Shoot Cop…” The 17 minute monster of a song is really the must-listen of the album. Starting off soft with a piano, tambourine and guitar, Jason Pierce sings with his signature monotone moan “Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.” You can almost hear Pierce shrugging as he sings the line. Of course, the song follows the theme of the album and straddles the line between tranquility and travesty, and the song soon explodes into a tempest of screeching guitars, bass riffs and just general fuzz, only to once again be calmed, restarting the cycle. In the end, this album could easily be 2 separate albums by 2 separate bands, that were then mashed together and intertwined and forced to live together in some sort of crazy reality show. Jason Pierce really made a masterpiece of an album with “Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space.” Not only is the concept of the album fully realized and well executed, the band behind Pierce is playing in top form (listen: Cop Shoot Cop…). The band is able to transform from a baseline and drum into a wall of sound and textures in seconds, and then at any moment compact itself back into minimalist mode. The album is a complete package, a joy to listen to from start to end, and that’s what really propels it into space.