When Spacemen 3 disintegrated in a hail of heroin and bad blood, Jason Pierce formed Spiritualized as a showcase for his more grandstanding vision.
In 1992, their debut album Laser Guided Melodies was both an almighty leap forwards and a pointer to even better things. Almost 30 years later, Pierce has curated double-vinyl reissues of Spiritualized’s first four albums. The sound is majestic enough, although a third record of unreleased material might have been a better-value way ahead.
What’s here, though, in these 12 songs carefully divided into four movements, does make a case for Pierce as a spectacular innovator.
While never shedding Spacemen 3’s winning way with an uncompromising drone – the gently relentless 200 Bars surges like Tago Mago-era Can – and always plumping for atmosphere over everything, Pierce added ghostly vocals, kitchen-sink production and some subtle but always extraordinary guitar playing, whether acoustic, as on the later stages of You Know It’s True, jaggedly thrusting on If I Were With Her Now, or sublimely delicate on Sway.
The gospel influence was still to come, and would culminate five years later on Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, but Pierce’s capacity to create his own luxurious world was already intact.