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ALBUM REVIEWS / Pop

*** 1/2 SPIRITUALIZED "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" Dedicated/Arista

August 08, 1997|STEVE HOCHMAN

Who would have figured that, in this age of electronica, one of the most ambitious and striking sonic pastiches so far this year would come from a band that still uses such conventional rock tools as real guitars and drums, supplemented by brass and strings?

Anyone who's followed Jason Pierce in his journey from the highly influential English band Spaceman 3 through the two previous Spiritualized albums wouldn't be surprised.

"Floating" essentially recycles, refines and expands on the key elements of the two other albums--Can-derived space-rock (the pulsing "Electricity"), string-backed minimalism ("Broken Heart"), unexpected gospel-like epiphanies ("Cool Waves").

Here, though, the mix has evolved to a higher plane on which Pierce has constructed a symphonic arc that plays out almost continuously over 70-plus minutes of ebb and flow through structured songs, ambient drift and static, noisy release.

The closing 16-minute "Cop Shoot Cop" covers all those bases. Pierce threads through it his pleasantly low-key voice and often Earth-bound images of hope amid despair.

Floating? Very much; it's not for nothing that the cover design mimics pharmaceutical packaging. But you also get bouncing, soaring, dancing, dreaming and praying. Space is the place. The band will be at the El Rey Theatre on Aug. 28.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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