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Spectrum

Pete Kember, aka Sonic Boom, is legendary. This is the man behind Spacemen 3-the mind-altering band that shaped minimalist, psychedelic sounds in the 1980s and lead the way for many “shoe-gazing” bands thereafter. They drew from diverse influences that shared their musical and aesthetic approach such as Suicide, The Cramps, The Stooges, and The Staple Singers. After Spacemen 3′s demise, Sonic went on to form the outfit, Spectrum, and later, Experimental Audio Research, a “musical soundscape” collaborative featuring artists such as Kevin Shields, AMM’s Eddie Prévost, and Kevin Martin.

TRANSPARENT RADIATION

Réal : Steve Viehmann / One Shot Seattle

Tourné à Seattle, Octobre 2007

Over the years Sonic Boom has collaborated with many influential artists including Stereolab, Yo La Tengo, Jessamine and Silver Apples. Recently, he worked with Dean & Britta on their latest release and prior, re-mixed six of their songs for the EP, Sonic Souvenirs . Sonic is currently touring with Randall Nieman (from the great experimental band, Füxa) as Spectrum. To meet one of my musical heroes was incredible, so shooting this Take-Away Show was quite an experience. Before pitching the idea to Sonic, I should have realized that Spectrum is primarily an electronic band using vintage analogue synths… so of course they wouldn’t be touring with acoustics. Still, in my mind’s eye I was imagining Sonic playing classic Spacemen 3 songs on an acoustic…

Once I spoke with Sonic I realized I needed to round-up gear that would be suitable for a Take-Away Show… I ended up with a cheap Casio that had all of about 4 notes and an old Fender acoustic, which wouldn’t quite stay in tune. With only about 30 minutes to shoot, they followed us to the park just off the highway. We walked to the abandoned gazebo and set-up. After tuning up and figuring which songs to play-and perhaps to their chagrin-they performed a few songs for us with the rather inferior equipment. First, we got this wonderful take of Set Me Free from Spacemen 3′s final LP, Recurring. I love this song and really enjoyed hearing it this paired down. To have Sonic playing music in this setting was a true moment of glee for me. And the setting somehow seemed right: with Sonic’s pink shirt and the purple-columned gazebo looking like some Alice in Wonderland type of thing.

SET ME FREE

Réal : Steve Viehmann / One Shot Seattle

Tourné à Seattle, Octobre 2007

More Spacemen 3 songs were suggested, as they are more conducive to performing acoustically than the Spectrum material. So after a few run-throughs, Sonic started strumming as Randall echoed on the Casio. The result is this truncated version of the Red Krayola song, “Transparent Radiation”, from Spacemen 3′s masterpiece, Perfect Prescription. Albeit a bit rough due to the slightly out-of-tune “cheese grater” of a guitar, this was a rare and unique moment. I regard it as a reflection of the punk aesthetic in a “picnic” approach.

It was all over in just a few moments. We took a few snaps, gave our thanks and said our goodbyes. Not many people get to meet their heroes let alone hang out with them. It was definitely one of my favorite days. Look for the new Spectrum album, On The Wings Of Mercury, as well as Füxa’s Electric Sounds of Summer, in 2008.