Sonic Boom

Spectrum

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Sonic Boom's first solo turn outside of Spacemen 3, while the band was still vaguely in existence, ironically features not only Jason Pierce, but most of the original Spiritualized lineup as well, including bassist Will Carruthers and guitarist Mark Refoy, not to mention other regular cohorts as the Jazz Butcher and the Perfect Disaster's Phil Parfitt and Josephine Wiggs. Carruthers co-produces the record as well, and the end result is a much softer, gentler effort than Spacemen 3 itself ever came up with -- instead of sheer extremes of serenity and noise, with the notable exception of the intense "You're the One," things are generally serene on Spectrum. If not necessarily calm, admittedly -- lyrically, there are references to death, loneliness, suicide, addiction, though all delivered in swathes of echo and with extreme gentleness by Sonic himself. Both the album's opening and concluding songs, "Help Me Please" and "If I Should Die," sound almost too fragile to exist, mere wisps of sound. "Angel," the accompanying single, initially consists of little but a click track, softly plucked semi-surf guitar, and Sonic's spoken word drawl, before building into a sweeping yet subtle guitar/string orchestration worthy of Spiritualized, Wiggs' cello work especially key. Two songs where the energy level is a bit more active are, perhaps unsurprisingly, covers -- Doc Pomus' classic "Lonely Avenue" and Suicide's "Rock and Roll is Killing My Life," another of Sonic's tips of the hat to the Alan Vega/Martin Rev partnership. Even both those songs rely on a distanced zone of performance and delivery from Sonic and associates, making everything sound like an endless trip subdivided into different movements. Ultimately Spectrum is a one-off -- Sonic didn't revisit this particular approach with Spectrum itself or with E.A.R. -- but it's a very entertaining one worth the hearing.

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