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The Spaceman Reissue Program – Pure Phase

Pure Phase by Spiritualized is often overlooked by fans and critics. With contributions from band members and other musicians, this article aims to raise its standing.

I just did the Spiritualized Electric Mainline handlettering. I vaguely remember a meeting with Blue Source and Jason Pierce present, when the CD was discussed. I didn’t receive a copy so didn’t listen to the album but have recently listened to it on Spotify. Really interesting and a bit retro sort of (given it was 25 years ago I guess that would be retro-retro now 🙂 I like early Pink Floyd, which some of it reminded me of. Would listen to it again. Quite fitting for the mood of the moment in a way. Be nice if there was some kind of revival of interest in it. Got me thinking though, how much should a cover reflect the music and how much should you judge a book by the cover. I had frequently bought books on the strength of the cover. Am not sure how much this applies to music. Obviously, it depends on the album and how important the art is to the musician. It struck me that it was really important to Jason.

Carol Kemp https://www.carolkemp.com/

I always think the glue that attaches memories to me in any kind of arresting and visceral sense is emotion… and with that I recall clearly the moment I first ever heard Pure Phase by Spiritualized almost as if it was last week.. I was in Apollo Studios in Glasgow with One Dove attempting to follow up Morning Dove White. We played Pure Phase one evening through the rather posh large studio speakers and it blew my mind really… if music can be so desired it feels almost edible and nourishing, if it can affect you physiologically with goosebumps, etc. yet also emotionally and even spiritually while creating a sense of union between you and the voice within the music… for me Pure Phase achieves all these things. The whole album is gorgeous. I particularly recall hearing ‘Let It Flow’ for the first time… it felt like an embrace that comforts you whilst leading you round mystery corners. I have since then looked to that album as a snow-capped summit of something to aim for, with its free and unique songwriting and the wonderful production. I even played this song in my last mixing session in Castlesounds in October 2020 as a reference and something to aspire to.

Dot Allison https://dotallison.com/
Dot Allison wearing a David Bowie t shirt
Dot Allison

This LP was a good one that, after the live album Fucked Up Inside, really got me to appreciate this group. Even though friends had been raving about them for some time, and I had quite liked some Spacemen 3 tunes, I still wasn’t really sold on the sound/approach of LGM. But I really liked Fucked Up Inside when that came out, so when Pure Phase was released it seemed to hit home very well… I was lucky that my friends, Savidge and Best, had their office just around the corner from where I lived in Camden – so I got to hear all the new releases that they dealt with as an agency and they were loving SPZD. So this was my introduction to SPZD before later on becoming a member via the connection of Russell from Moose. [Why do you think PP struck a chord in particular?] It seems to coalescence ideas in a better more truthful way… the songs are more exploratory and have a heavier vibe… LGM… although a great album with some fantastic (later classic) songs seems light in comparison.

Ray Dickaty, Spiritualized saxophonist (1997–2003) https://www.raydickaty.com/
Ray Dickaty

Something about the separate sections and the moods of each subsequent part is very seductive. From the initial ethereal washes that sound like I’m travelling through a time portal, you can’t help but to be drawn in, you become carried along as the waves build and with the final crescendo hitting the cerebellum square on you are too far in to be able to return, the journey home has begun. The synth string line catches you unaware, causing you to glide on an angelic chorus, one that is as fragile as it is unbreakingly faultless. Then the anticipated rush hits. You know it’s coming, you’ve been here before, you’ll come back for more, again and again. This is the sound of harmony. Harmony between performed sounds, the musical notes and the people who play them. This is the point of Pure Phase. This is where the album peaks, from there on it’s a blissful descent, all the way home. Where is home? What is home? Is it here, is it to be safely escorted back to the beginning. Is it heaven? ‘Feel Like Goin’ Home’ isn’t a song. It’s a hymn of longing and belonging.

Ian Griffiths, kontakte kontakte.bandcamp.com
Ian Griffiths

This was a welcome album after playing their debut album sooo much. I fell in love with the album straightaway and I love all the album’s emotion and the variety of tracks, especially All of My Tears and Let It Flow.

Vinita Joshi, Rocket Girl
Vinita Joshi

Anyone can make the simple complicated. But it takes a special talent to make the complicated simple. Not trivial. But a profound, beautiful simplicity. As an album, Pure Phase achieves this with every little sonic treat in its rightful place in space.

John-Paul Hughes, Helicon https://heliconglasgow.bandcamp.com/music
John-Paul Hughes

In 1991 I wangled myself onto the guest list to see Spiritualized in Oxford with a ‘plus one’ for my girlfriend. Mark Refoy later told me that Jason was freaking out at the idea that I might have brought Sonic with me! (As if… I wanted to hear the music, not a series of character assassinations 😂) As it goes, I don’t think I’ve even had the opportunity to speak to Jason since, though, to be fair, he has sent his regards once or twice through mutual friends. Because of Mark and Jonny I had heard Lazer Guided Melodies. It was largely because of Mark and Jonny that I enjoyed it. Of course, by the time that Pure Phase came out, Mark and Jonny had been – shall we
say? – offloaded. So by this time Jason had managed to fall out with Sonic, Will, Jonny and Mark, all of whom are good friends of mine. He and Spiritualized had already kind of passed out of my view. I can’t recall hearing Pure Phase at the time that it came out. Listening now, one can hear Jason finding his voice after the beautiful but often shamelessly derivative first album. One sees the start of the orchestrations, the choirs, the big vision. Sometimes it’s wonderful, sometimes it strikes me as all “a bit coffee table”, a bit “easy”, a bit top-heavy. That said, there are some wonderful performances on there. I reconnected with Spiritualized’s music on Ladies and Gentlemen because I was working with the engineer who recorded it and he played it for us. Skinnier and more rock and roll than Pure Phase, it turned out to be first big album for them and I guess it achieves a good sonic balance between the sounds of the first two albums. But by that time my head was somewhere else entirely.

Pat Fish, The Jazz Butcher https://www.facebook.com/pat.fish.7
The Jazz Butcher

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