Alpha Stone

Stereophonic Pop Art Music

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The first Alpha Stone record has Pete Bassman rebounding back heartily from the unfortunate end days of the Darkside; while Sonic Boom and Jason Spaceman will forever remain the two touchstones of the whole Spacemen 3 collective, Bassman here makes his best claim at being something more than just the George Harrison of the act. Aiming for a slightly gentler take on fuzz-psych-pop, as opposed to the heavy vibes of the likes of "Guitar Voodoo," for instance, Stereophonic is loaded with enough wah-wah, reverb and mystery to make fans of garagey zoneouts happy and then some. Admittedly, absolutely nothing on the record will surprise longtime fanatics of the Spacemen sound, especially Jason's contributions -- half the tracks are practically rewrites of "Walking With Jesus." This said, much of Stereophonic also calls to mind the Jesus and Mary Chain's calmer moments (think "On the Wall") as much as it does the 3. "Special One" makes for a fine way to start, with some of Bassman's best guitar work set against a nicely stoned-out lyric, but the real change is evident on "Destiny Angel," where drum machines take a prominent place, a low-key but tense beat propelling the wistful singing and guitar chiming which builds into a more intense form of fuzz. To-be-expected but still fun found-sound samples like NASA rocket launch countdowns on the lengthy shuffle "Astro" and a slightly strange story from a "Farmer C" on the track by that title blend in nicely with the burbling keyboards and drones. Topped off with appropriately color-distorted pictures of aliens playing guitars, all you'd need is some black posters and a lava lamp -- Stereophonic does its job that well.

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