One of the most influential bands of the 80s British underground, the number of bands with a sonic debt to the Kember/Pierce partnership seems to grow every year. Like a lot of bands that have forged iconic status in the guitar world, even though they were much more than a noisy guitar band, they reinvented noise in music. Noise as in an importance of harmonics, repetition, tone, distortion and some sort of higher aspiration, be it religious or opiate redemption or bliss.
Spacemen 3 were psychedelic in the loosest sense of the word; their guitar explorations were colourfully mind-altering, but not in the sense of the acid rock of the ’60s. Instead, the band developed its own minimalistic psychedelia, relying on heavily distorted guitars to clash and produce their own harmonic overtones; frequently, they would lead up to walls of distortion with overamplified acoustic guitars and synths. Often the band would jam on one chord or play a series of songs, all in the same tempo and key. Though this approach was challenging, often bordering on the avant-garde, Spacemen 3 nevertheless gained a dedicated cult following.
In 1982, Sonic Boom (guitar, organ, vocals; born Pete Kember on November 19, 1965) and Jason Pierce (guitar, organ, vocals; also born November 19, 1965) formed Spacemen 3 in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Sonic Boom and Pierce added a rhythm section comprised of Pete Baines and Rosco, and spent the next four years rehearsing and jamming. In 1986, the group released its debut album, ‘Sound of Confusion’, on Glass Records. At first the band sounded a bit like a punked-up garage rock band, but their music quickly evolved into their signature trance-like neo-psychedelia. Spacemen 3’s second album, 1987’s ‘The Perfect Prescription’, was the first to capture the group’s distinctive style. After releasing several albums in the late ’80s, the band fell apart after in 1991.
Both Pete and Jason have gone on to develop their own muses in the stratospheres, still not a million miles from their partnership, but for a lot of people it’s the direct assault of the Spacemen and their combined talents – especially on ‘Perfect Prescription’ – that hit home hardest. The feeling they aimed at with intensity makes it irrelevant if it’s about heroin or a slightly pastiche idea of Jesus; it’s the focus and intent that can suck you in and take you for a ride; it’s music that believes in the primal and heavenly power of sound.
(Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG)