A lot of great shows tonight. FIGHT AMP at Mountain Bar. GREEN & WOOD at Bordello. A thrash show at House of Blues. And then there's the sleeper event for the special kind who have lysergic acid as a component of their spinal fluld. A show fronted by a man that has said in essence: "Three chords good, two chords better, one chord best." Many of you would be bored silly by the minimalism and the repetition. Others realize the sound is as fundamental as your pulse. There's no sense in critiquing it; it's just necessary. The man responsible for this sound (along with Jason Pierce, now of SPIRITUALIZED) is named Philip Kember, aka Sonic Boom, who tonight brings his "straightforward" project SPECTRUM to the Troubadour. Here's how he described his influences and output almost 10 years ago:
I was always particularly fond of simple music, ideally featuring a drone, or common note throughout the music (e.g. The Kinks' 'See My Friends', Rolf Harris's 'Sun-Arise', the Who's 'I Can See For Miles', Roxy Music's 'Sultanesque', lots of Velvets stuff, Stooges stuff, MC5, Suicide). Basically, one chord best, two chords cool, three chords ok, four chords average. Much of my sound (as opposed to conceptual and songwriting involvement) in Spacemen 3 was textural. Simple drone chords of texture, slow crescendo and dynamic -- being able to take one chord from the proverbial whisper to a scream.
One of the other big influences was of course, consciousness exploration and change and the experimentation with sound under altered states of consciousness -- but also to bring back the "language" to be able to re-transmit those states through sound and music. Actually I very much believe the Cage-ism of any sound having the possibility to be musical. Almost any sound can be made to enthrall, astound, bore, outrage through simple temporal elongations, pitch transposing and numerous other sound processing possibilities.
How our music sounded straight and under the influence of various drugs was absolutely fundamental to me, and was a prominent aspect of the band. Also, how things like natural sound mixing and phasing was "hearable" under psychedelics like acid and mushrooms was a revelation. Cars swishing along the road in the rain was suddenly (and to me is still) a very emotive sound. Whereby, I mean I think it strikes strong feelings from within. This has always been my main aim. To make music that strikes and evokes/captures strong feelings/emotions. To that end, I think a composer is literally an antenna to take in feelings, emotions etc and analyse, resynthesise and then broadcast out to other humans. We felt we were making music (in the mid 80's) for a sector of society including ourselves who seemed uncatered for. We could only imagine that there were other people out there wanting something more than what was currently on offer and in the realm which interested us. Luckily, we slowly seemed to find the other alienated types seeking something special from the music in their lives -- i.e. not aural wallpaper as music is sometimes used.
And this is a cover of Spacemen 3's "Revolution", performed a couple of weeks ago at Roadburn by Finland's PHARAOH OVERLORD. Note the turtlenecks.