Spectrum Soul Kiss (Glide Divine)
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Spectrum's debut album -- and at the start, at least, it was something of a regular functioning group -- follows on readily from the end of Spacemen 3 and Sonic's own solo album Spectrum. It's the same lyric obsessions, combination of simplicity and overdrive in the music and the inexpressible spark which so often transforms Sonic's music from celebration of the past into its own boundless future. His partners on the record -- multi-instrumentalist Richard Formby and the Mike Stout/Geoff Donkin rhythm section -- readily kick up the right level of energy or drowsy passion needed. The hands-down pop winner comes right at the start -- "How You Satisfy Me," a near perfect garage-rocker ready for Nuggets combined with more tremolo and flanging than the world should readily be able to handle and a killer chorus. From there, Soul Kiss generally explores things on a much calmer note, with any number of audio clues pointing toward Sonic's next major effort, Mesmerised by EAR. Consider the slow drones and swirling sounds in "Neon Sigh," which while far more minimal than the early EAR material definitely follows the same general pattern of open-ended exploration, drifting in space. Concluding track "Phase Me Out (Gently)" takes this to an even more extreme level, a 15-minute overlay of wordless vocals and tones that lives up to its name in fine fashion. When Spectrum focuses on more traditional song structures, the results are engaging, Sonic's own brand of light gauze over gentle chords. "Waves Wash Over Me" has perhaps his highest singing ever, not so much a whisper as a breeze from above, while "Sweet Running Water" is as perfect a bliss-out as anyone could ask, a slow cascade of feedback and rhythm. Various guests, including regular collaborator the Jazz Butcher on sax and, also on that instrument, Kevin Martin, sometime EAR partner, contribute here and there to the proceedings.