I have a passion sweet Lord... and it just won't go away
Strange, considering the number of references in the songs and songtitles of “Recurring” to love, fun, feelin’ fine and intoxicated bonhomie that it should have been recorded in such curiously bitter circumstances. Sonic Boom’s songs are on the first side, Jason’s (he is now also Spiritualized) on the other. In mathematical terms, Sonic and Jason may be recurring but they are also mutually exclusive. The freely exude good vibes to all of humankind except each other. They are not only “together” nominally. They work separately. They’re not on speaking terms.
What we have here, then, are two very fine solo mini-LPs
bolted together under the same moniker. In spite of the estrangement, musically,
Sonic and Jason are far from chalk and cheese. Both prefer a swirling stasis of
sound that overcomes you like fumes, envelopes you, sucks you in rather than
taking you anywhere. Both prefer the joss-stick to the rhythm stick, eschewing
an in-vogue heavy backbeat in favour of a gentle, pitter-patter that enables
them to float and melt. Both at their best inculcate an uneasy stupor in the
listener. Is that smell ganja or a gas leak?
Sonic Boom’s side begins with the excellent single,
“Big City”, a spectral reminiscence of late Seventies electro-disco (Moroder,
“Heart Of Glass”, etc) and lyrically is an airy idealisation of the rave
culture. You can’t so much dance to it as float to it. Elsewhere, Sonic uses
more primitive psychedelic devices for effect. “I Love You” is curiously
askew, Will Carruthers’ bass vibrations right up front while Sonic sings out
in the garden, somewhere. “Set Me Free/I’ve Got The Key” sees Sonic
wandering blissfully into an enveloping cloud of zither haze, a muffling buzz of
tremolos and drones. By the end of it, the inside of your head needs one of
those descaler things they put in kettles. Just my cup of fur.
Jason’s Spaceman sound is more desolate and grandiose than Sonic’s. “So Sad” is like some vague ghost of The Mamas And The Papas with its heavily melancholic, choric vocals deliberately over-emphasised. “Hypnotized” and “Sometimes” swirl around big, acoustic guitar figures – there’s a yearning that falls beyond nostalgia here for the lost, epic feel of Sixties pop. More deep-seated than kitsch – think rather of big old Fleetwood Mac riffs cast adrift for years at sea. “Feeling Just Fine (Head Full Of Shit)” is best, its mood self-explanatory, submitting to its own accumulation of wheeling drones. As with Sonic’s stuff, it’s not always easy to focus your attention on these songs – you drift in and out of them, as if hovering on the edge of sleep. But you don’t switch off.
Who’s the greatest = Jason or Sonic? I’m not getting
into that. Let’s call this a 5-5 draw.
David Stubbs, Melody Maker
Some bands have been misinterpreted through a clumsy, pseudo-intellectual reading of their music. Others have suffered through media shock tactics over the copious amounts of drugs they've taken. For much of their eight year career, Spacemen 3 have been confined to the darker fringes of the indie scene, because both unattractive angles have been adopted by the music press.
However, the first thing that strikes you about Recurring is that the Spacemen are fanatical musical magpies. Laurie Anderson, Blondie, the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk and the Beach Boys have all been enthusiastically raided for ideas. The second feature is that drugs may have inspired the mood, but the instinctive, sensual final product is more poignantly universal.
Aiming high, they often fail. But the real gem on this album, 'Feel So Sad (Reprise)' is pure blues in its spine-tingling honesty. This is the work of Jason Pierce, who wrote the second half of the album, including last year's brilliant single, 'Hypnotised'. Side One is made up of Peter 'Sonic Boom' Kember compositions, further evidence that tension between the duo has finally split the band.
It's interesting, however, to her the differences between them. Pierce's sound is more lyrical and dramatic, building songs into climaxes. 'Sometimes' is a good example of this approach: a great song with a classic pop feel. Sonic Boom's lengthy textured pieces move horizontally - a rhythmic, hypnotic pulse from start to finish. Together, or rather separately, they have produced a strangely moving album, blissfully free from self-consciousness or blind sophistication.
Steve Malins, Vox