Friday, April 29, 2011

Spectrum - Highs, Lows, and Heavenly Blows (1994)


"Opiates elicit their powerful effects by activating opiate receptors that are widely distributed throughout the brain and body. Once an opiate reaches the brain, it quickly activates the opiate receptors that are found in many brain regions and produces an effect that correlates with the area of the brain involved. Two important effects produced by opiates, such as morphine, are pleasure (or reward) and pain relief. The brain itself also produces substances known as endorphins that activate the opiate receptors. Research indicates that endorphins are involved in many things, including respiration, nausea, vomiting, pain modulation, and hormonal regulation."

Peter Kember, founding member of Spacemen 3, had something of a rocky fallout between Jason Pierce when the eighties were coming to a close. Junkies are volatile by nature, so these things are not uncommon. However, when Spacemen 3 finally broke up, the two went their respectable separate ways both keeping the S3 aesthetic, in the same vein (pun intended) as their precursor with spaced-out reverb and heroin drenched songs that float by lazily and are often quite hypnotic. A S3 album once dubbed Kember and Pierce's sound "music to take drugs to" and Highs, Lows, and Heavenly Blows is no exception. Drugs are innately ingrained in Spectrum's sound and like most good music, inspired the creators to make more interesting work (and in this case, more relaxing work and music that has the ability to release "feel good" chemicals in the brain, even if the listener is sober).

The aptly titled "Feedback" is a good example of this dreamy gliding sound that goes so well with being zoned out of your mind. If you're familiar with Kember's work as Sonic Boom/Specrum, you'll recognize these drug inspired interludes immediately and it really takes you into the album if your concentrating fully on the album itself and not distracted by outside influences. It takes you away for a bit between the excellent opening number "Under the Taboo" and gradually blends into my favorite song on the LP, "Then I Just Drifted Away." Let me speak for a second about this song. It's so welcoming and warm that you can almost drift away yourself while listening to it. It's just blissful and the lyrics are almost wistful but you hardly notice because the music's light and pleasant so you hardly realize what Kember is singing about (kudos to whoever gets that reference) or what his exact feelings are. "Then I Just Drifted Away" is followed by some more of Spectrum's most conventional songwriting that is just pure pleasure in audio form. Just pop a few Watson 540s and lay on your bed or outside in the grass or on hammock or someplace comfortable and let the music just assimilate with you while you stare at the ceiling fan cycle around or the clouds float by. I'd say this album is a good contender for the best S3 related release ever this side of Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space , but its hard to choose since there are so many good ones. Turn it on, space out, and "just drift away"

Rating: 9/10

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