Jason Pierce makes music with simple chords but the sound and ambitions are larger than life, “like a field recording that’s made by Phil Spector,” as he’s been quoted saying.
The neo-psychedelic space rock project Spiritualized was formed by Jason Pierce from the ashes of drone/riff/noise makers Spacemen 3, a collaborative band that made a mission statement with the often-quoted album title Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs to. With Spiritualized, Jason Pierce stepped forward as a bandleader and wrapped clearer song structures around his sonic maelstroms and many-coloured songs.
While they can hark back to rockabilly, soul, country, garage rock and gospel, Spiritualized songs always have their own uprooted, unmoored tone. And Pierce’s voice has always been fragile and telling, in songs that contemplate pain, confusion, loneliness, estrangement and uncertain hope.
In 2018 Spiritualized, which is now just Jason Pierce alone, released its eighth album, And Nothing Hurt, to great critical acclaim (that often happens!). It hails from the same blissed-out space-rock territory and layered arrangements as the ‘97 masterpiece Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.
Pierce expertly builds hypnotic layers of swirling, siren-like instrumentation and chiming bells summoning the sounds of the galaxy. Other times he blends gospel and garage rock to just as great delight.
When all of this translates to a live stage, we’re really in for a treat. Pierce has a certain command of musical texture. He directs his band perfectly through many moods, from tortured intimacy to scorched-earth bluesy riffings to gospel-tinged psychedelia and the occasional noiseballs shaking the snowglobe world that is Spiritualized. It’s a like a cosmic journey into space. Just be careful you don’t orbit out there.