on September 16, 2003
Definitely a love 'em or hate 'em band, Spiritualized transcends modern music in this epic opera of lost love, addiction as a means of forgetting and finally acceptance and redemption. Jason Pierce (a.k.a. J. Spaceman) writes and produces each individual note on the entire album, which is no small feat given the vast array of sound and style. His music is melodic and complex without being too pretentious, but it's his brilliant lyrics that truly set him apart from a thick ocean of artists like Radiohead and Verve. So turn off the lights, put on some headphones and get comfortable. It opens up with the airy title track that bleeds into an injection of adrenaline and bounces back and forth between moments of primal rage, lust and loss. "I Think I'm in Love" starts with a dreamy swirl of sound taking the listener through a heroin injection before seemlessly switching into a quicker paced series of contradictory dialogue - "I think I'm in love...maybe you're just lonely" truly one of the highlights of the album. For anyone who's ever truly been in love and abruptly dumped this album speaks like a support group. If you've ever drank to forget it almost sounds like words you wish you'd written first, "sometimes I have my breakfast right off of a mirror - or sometimes I'll have it right out of a bottle" - Home of the Brave. The real highlight of the album though is in it's emotional abyss, "Broken Heart" - a song so desperately honest it hurts to listen to. He doesn't try to get clever or academically poetic with the lyrics - it's too emotional for that he just hits you with the straight shot "Lord, I have a broken heart...and I'm cryin' all the time." the lyrics are accompanied by a sweeping set of strings that seem to lull you to the brink of tired as you become emotionally spent. Then after you take a deep sigh and catch your breath, church bells ring and after some horns come in you are led to the beautiful "Cool Waves" which could really be the end of the album right there. But, it's not. The bluesy and sinister Cop Shoot Cop takes you out. At well over 13 minutes this song carries you back slowly to where you started and when you turn on the lights and turn off the cd player you're amazed that everything you just went through came from 70 minutes of music.
It's not for everyone though, people with a less patient ear won't appreciate the intricacies of the sounds or the lyrics and may even take a few turns to really get into it - but once you do it'll be like nothing you have ever heard or experienced before and all you'll ask yourself is: "How the hell did I go this long without even knowing that this masterpiece existed?"
on June 23, 1999
There is a reason Spiritualized "Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space" beat out Radiohead's "OK Computer", the Verve's "Urban Hymns, and Primal Scream's "Vanishing Point" for NME's Album of the Year. It is a phenomenal journey of music, and like most outstanding works, it isn't completely accessible at the outset. I too thought it was overrated during my first ten listens, and put it away for six months. Then I pulled it out again, and it just lodged itself in my head for a good month straight. The sheer sonic brilliance of this album is what one should pay attention to. There are no real hooks or catchy melodies, but rather hypnotic guitar lines, bursts of carefully constructed white noise, and Jason Pierce's voice is simply one of the most emotional, soulful sounds in music this decade. This album really is like floating around in space.
My favorite bands are Oasis, Blur, REM, Wilco, that kind of stuff. The fact that I appreciate this music should tell you that it is not completely inaccessable to pop music fans. This is not pop music. It is is more demanding, and often more fulfilling. Only serious listeners and people in touch with the sadness and adventure in your soul need apply.
on March 31, 2000
It's been quite some time since a band has challenged me the way Spiritualized has. When I first heard them, live at a recent Radiohead concert, I must confess I was less than impressed. I couldn't understand what all the hype was about (they're on almost every critic's Top Ten list). They had no stage presence and their loosely structured songs were hard to get into in a live setting.
Yet, something drew me back to them and I found myself purchasing this CD. I'm glad I did. The packaging of the CD implies prescription medication and I guess "Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space" is a bit like medicine -- bitter and hard to swallow at first, but sure makes you feel good after the initial dosage.
The band and the music are hard to describe. I guess Spiritualized is what you'd get if you threw Radiohead, The Beatles and Sonic Youth in to a blender. They've got a sort of techno, ambient vibe, but the guitars screech and wail, the lyrics ramble on and at times it sounds more like they're smashing their instruments than playing them. They definitely pack a sonic wallop and their seemingly meandering songs come together at the end each and every time leaving you more satisfied with each listen. I think they're one of the truly unique and fresh bands out there and I recommend this album highly.
on May 12, 1999
Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space is, quite simply, the most accomplished, complete and intensely personal musical statement of these last ten years. This lengthy album brims with a scope that most records wouldn't dare to aspire to and pulls it off with dramatic, melancholic panache.
Spiritualized is a collective that, in this incarnation, feature a full band, gospel choir and enough electronics to power the internet. Yet, in the middle of the maelstrom, the vision is one man's alone: Jason Pierce is a man who's music burns with intense longing, occasional self loathing and an unerring ear for both the grand and the minute.
"All I need in life is a little bit of love to take the pain away" may sound like nothing in print, but when Pierce intones the words over a the radio traffic of a NASA mission, with building basslines leading into a killer melody, you'll know this is one space cadet who's worth following. From initial longing, to obsession, loss and finally a sort of redemption, the music follows the arc of a relationship in a way that belies the pretensions of concept music and always feels rooted in a scary and uncertain reality.
Pierce has managed to create a work which feels like a full bearing of the soul, in turns tragic and uplifting. If love is all and even that dissolves, what persists then? The answer is here and is simple: art. Great art.
on March 30, 1999
From what I've heard from other people who have listened to Spiritualized's music, they either love it or loathe it. This is unquestionably my favorite Spiritualized album. It's the first album I purchased of theirs, and I still think it's superior to their previous efforts. It may be described as repetitive, but it's never monotonous. The title "..floating in space" suits it perfectly. It's overwhelmingly vast (it could fill the universe) and still hits hard. Whether you want the blues-y mellow feel of Cop Shoot Cop.. or the choral Cool Waves or the foot-tappin I Think I'm In Love, this album retains its beauty throughout (aside from The Individual which I always have to skip over). I love Jason Pierce's voice also; it fits the songs perfectly.
on April 10, 2011
This is a massive album. Symphonic, romantic, and psychedelic, like Wagner on acid. I think that's been properly established by other reviewers at this point. It's all well and good, but what puts it among my all-time favorites is the way such grandiose music can be so personal and poignant.
As a fan of great storytelling, I have a tendency to interpret albums as concept albums. For example, when I first bought The Wite Stripes' "White Blood Cells", I thought it was actually a lo-fi rock opera about childhood romance. "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" is the same way for me.
But how so? In a single sentence, here's what I think: the album is a concept album about a troubled romantic type (presumably the band's brain, Jason Pierce) who relies on drugs and alcohol to cope with unrequited love.
Track by track, it works out almost perfectly. The first track begins withe the line "All I want in life's a little love to take the pain away/Gettin' strong today/One giant step each day". As it progresses, the song blooms into an overwhelming chorus of repeating lines layered and overlaping over and into each other, like expanding circles. "I will love you all the time/And I will love you 'till I die".
It's all very sweet, but things soon start to go downhill with track 2, "Come Together", a rocker with saxophones that, amazingly, don't sound like crap. About halfway through the song, Jason sings bitterly, "Now Little J's a ***ked up boy who dulled the pain and killed the joy/Those tracks of time/Those tracks are mine/Little J is occupied." Rhythmicly, it sounds sort of like iambic pentameter (the heartbeat pattern that Shakespeare uses). It represents the start of the character's drug use.
Then comes my personal favorite, track 3, "I Think I'm in Love". At about eight minutes in length "I Think I'm in Love" has two basic segments. The first one is musically euphoric, with lyrics describing the nearly divine bliss of a heroin high. Some people have criticized it for glorifying heroin use, but in the conext of the rest of the album, its image as an eventually destructive escape method becomes pretty clear. The second part of the song features the familiar theme of a the woozy optimisim of the beginning stages of falling in love. However, a pessimistic side comment follows every love-dumb line. When Jason confidently sings "I think my name is on your lips!", a second Jason immediately follows, singing "Probably complainin'...". It's actually pretty funny, and one of the more original metaphorical 'love as a drug' songs. The heroin dream represents Jason's sincere feelings of love while his doubtful side comments represent reality creeping in. The music, of course, is perfectly evocative and beautiful
The two songs that follow, "All My Thoughts "Stay With Me", smoothly witness the slide from infatuation (or perhaps obsession, depending on how cynical you are about love) into desperation. Then comes "Electricity", another song apparently about a drug high. It's the fastest and most traditionally 'rock and roll' song on the album.
"Home of the Brave" is one of the more unusual songs on the album. Its music sounds like a melodic squal of noise, which reminds me of my beloved Shoegazers My Bloody Valentine and Ride. "Home"'s squall, however, acts more as a background for Jason's extremely vulnerable singing. Some of the best lines on the album are in this sad come-down song. "Sometimes have my breakfast right off of a mirror/And sometimes I have it right out of a bottle" . . . "I don't even miss you/but that's 'cos I'm ***ked up/I'm sure when it wears off that I will be hurting."
"Home of the Brave" segues directly into "The Individual". This is the song that some of the more critical reviews have attacked. It's understandable, considering that it's not so much a song as it is about 5 minutes of noise. I personally don't mind it, and I see it as a symbol of the fuzzed out, confused nature of J's drug-addled brain.
By track nine, "Broken Heart", the man is back in action, packing more despair into the song than all the songs that precede it combined. I see this as 'the sober song'. His delusions gone, J sings the brutal truths of his situation: "And I'm wasted all the time/I gotta drink you right off of my mind/I've been told that this will heal given time/But I have a broken heart/And I'm crying all the time/I have to keep it covered up with a smile/And I keep on moving on for a while/But I have a broken heart". Musicically speaking, the song is a flat-out ballad complete with strings and a French horn. No wonder it was used as a single.
Track 10, "No God Only Religion", is another instrumental puzzler, and I admit that I'm a bit puzzled about what it's supposed to mean, if it means anything to begin with. It's noisy, but still more accessible than "The Individual", and has a weird symphonic musical phrase that repeats, almost like a march. If I had to compare it to another piece of music, it'd be Nine Inch Nails' "Pilgrimage" instrumental from "The Fragile".
Track 11, "Cool Waves" sounds like a closing track with a big ol' gospel choir singing along as J seems to come to terms with his loss, singing sadly "Baby if you gotta leave, you gotta leave." It reminds me of "Goodnight", the song that ends The Beatles' White Album.
. . . But it's not the closing track. Track 12, "Cop Shoot Cop...", is a menacing yet reserved 17 minute jam with long waves of heavy feedback. Kinda cool, but very out of place on such a personal album. It's as if "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" was recorded as a double vinyl album, but wasn't long enough to have a fourth side, so "Cop Shoot Cop" was added as an afterthought.
on October 19, 2001
first off, don't let the average customer rating affect your decision even a little. i only mention this because at the time of my writing, the average review was 3.5 stars, when there are hundreds of more mainstream recordings with 4 and 4.5 star ratings that are far inferior. i think spiritualized just attracts a more discerning ear. i guess i'm one of the few exceptions.
I first got into this album about a year ago, and i haven't gotten tired of a minute of it. it's a wonderful album of truly unique, highly diverse moments. it's one of those albums where the styles are both wildly varied and summarily successful. all these songs work in their own grounds, and all flow well together. this album works as a whole, but not in any overly magical way. truthfully, there are albums out there that are more cohesive, but none of them can match the diversity of style to be found here. i recommend this album very highly.
on September 8, 1999
Okay, without having to go over any band history or previous accomplishments, including other albums or anything else that doesn't matter, let's look at this album, yes, this one. If you're considering buying it, then do, because it's a classic. Not because of the hype around it when it first hit the bins, and not because of it's cool packaging, but because it's an original experience. There simply isn't anything out there that's very close to this recording, so please, if you've never heard it, then give it a shot. I like to listen to music while I drive. The first time I heard this album I was on a long trip, by myself, driving in the car and spacing out to this masterful recording. If you're into music that makes you lose control of that certain part deep down inside where you make your thoughts up, then look no further. You know it's good. Buy it.
on May 3, 2003
I personally find it rather confusing as to the extremely varied reception this album recieves, both from clear non-fans and long time supporters of the band. Whilst it is true that if you want straightforward rock, or fear free jazz noise, or fear orchestration, this record will not be up your street, otherwise this is a monumental work on all levels.
The melodies have been broadly criticised here, but to be honest they are more a vehicle for the excellent witty, emotional lyrics, and anyway the meat of the melodicismcomes embedded in the richness of the arrangements themselves.
As to it being over-produced, that is really a question of taste. I think if one was to take that term to mean overly sugar coated, (over-engineered vocals, an airless perfectionism that destroys emotional connection) then that would be totally inacurate. Perhaps the arrangements are incredibly intricate, and perhaps a lot of people brought up more on the pop/rock side of things find that a little hard to get into, but as far as i am concerned, and having lived with this album for about 4 yrs now, it is amongst only three or so records i have ever heard which bear listening over and over and over again, and part of the region to that is in the overall depth of sound achieved.
The album is perfectly structured, from crystaline overture to emotional breakdown, to spiritual reconcilliation, but it is the final song which is the sucker punch.
Coming after Cool Waves, offering us the traditional happy ending, (perhaps the forgiveness after a relationship breakdown), Jason gives us the real ending, the twisted, heroin dark, bitterly swampy, emotionally numbed Cop Shoot Cop.
It is quite a referential album, to the minimalism of Glass and Nyman, the cyclical music of Reich, the swamp blues of Dr John, 60s psychedelia, 70s sludge rock, 80s drone rock, classic soul and funk, Pachalebel's pastoral grace and classicism, even the fire music of Albert Ayler in the noise jazz sections. But this is not unmediated or messy artistic theft, rather the creation of a confluence of ideas, all filtered through the prism of band leader and lyricist Jason Pierce.
I would say however that this is one of those albums that gradually grows on you, rather than announcing itself from the off. For the first few months I thought it was a weak album with three or so really excellent tracks. Then I forgot about it, then I remembered it, dug it out, and after maybe a year or so showed itself as the masterpiece I believe it to be. Which would you rather have: the albums which are great for a couple of weeks, then tossed away, or the ones that live with you all your life?
The third album by Jason Pierce's project Spiritualized, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE ARE FLOATING IN SPACE is a therapeutic record, meant to help Pierce get over a doomed relationship and offer some solace to listeners out there. Indeed, the remarkable design of the album, worth carefully admiring before playing the record, has it matching a box of medicinal tablets (the limited edition went one step further by placing each of the 12 tracks on its own individually wrapped disc).
The album consists in the main of three types of material: droning rock guitars, grand string or choir arrangements, and free jazz-like jamming. A few tracks are dominated by one particular sound ("Come Together" the first, "Stay with Me" by the second, and "Cop Shoot Cop" by the third). Generally, however, Pierce has created his songs from massive layering of elements that reconcile elements one might consider heterogenous. Underneath the rigid structure of most tracks, there's a guitar or saxophone line that is complete pandemonium. The contribution of the Balanescu Quartet, the London Community Gospel Choir and Dr. John give the album a memorable grandeur, and Pierce merits praise for keeping the tradition of Phil Spector "wall of sound" production alive.
I come back to LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE ARE FLOATING IN SPACE quite often and can recommend it to listeners looking for psychadelic music of recent times.