What Music Takes You To Church?

Revisiting a few familiar favorites this evening.

Every listener has a few – one or two exceptional records which transport them to a metaphysical beyond, or one could say, records that take them to church.  One unparalleled example is Glenn Goins calling down the Mothership at Parliament Funkadelic’s performance in Houston in 1976.

But my personal favorite out-of-body musical experience is Spiritualized’s Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.  The entire album is a neo-psychedelic gospel noisepop anthem and one of the finest and most cohesive works of the shoegaze genre.

J Spaceman and his band are accompanied by Dr John on the piano and the Hammond B3, as well as the voices of The London Community Gospel Choir. There are touches of hammer dulcimer, autoharp, accordion, string and horn sections, and pedal steel making for one brilliantly-refined heroin-inspired masterpiece.

The 17-minute closing epic, “Cop Shoot Cop” is a monumental performance.  The track’s foundation is a simple gospel blues oscillation between two fundamental chords.  J’s understated half-spoken vocals usher the listener through a series of verses varying on a primary lyrical theme, each punctuated by twelve bars of distortion pedal punching noise which culminates after the final verse with 6 minutes of an unrelenting eruption of cacophonous clamor.  Impressively, the hyperactive electric bass which has been walking up and down scales for the duration of the piece slowly introduces and repeats the root note of the track and guides the performers through the fog machine and wall-of-sound pandemonium back to the familiar gospel structure for a few minutes of meditative peace while Spaceman repeats, “and I will love you… and I will love you…” for the album’s finale.

This is a record best-experienced in your finest pair of circumaural headphones, and bested only by the 3-disc UK Expanded Edition.

Ladies and gentlemen… we are floating in space.

Days of the Lords: 1976-1997

Weekend Update: Saturday Afternoon Project

Born in ’81, I was just a few years too young for some of the best music of the 80s. This afternoon I dedicated some time to rectifying that issue.

I collected all of the genre-defining albums of the era from RateYourMusic.com and assembled a 175-hour playlist titled Days of the Lords: 1976-1997 comprising 55 artists from the period’s most prominent genres:

  • Ethereal Wave
  • New Wave
  • Dream Pop
  • Gothic Rock
  • Shoegaze
  • Post-Punk
  • Jangle Pop
  • & Noise Pop

All the major players are here.  Neoclassical darkwave and goth rock mainstays like The Cure, The Church, The Cult, Joy Division, The Smiths, Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins.  Plus post-punk artists like The Chameleons, Cabaret Voltaire, Chrome, Einstürzende Neubauten, Jesus & Mary Chain, Swervedriver, and Fad Gadget.

All the shoegaze giants made the list, from My Bloody Valentine to Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized, Soda Stereo, The Boo Radleys, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, Belly, and The Catherine Wheel.  I’ve really done my best to assemble all of the artistst discographies that defined their generation’s sound from 1976-1997.

Here’s a preview of the completed list in action.  I’ve got a lot of listening to do!

Days of the Lords