srijeda, 9. svibnja 2012.

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Himnične pjesme dok besramno obješen o boga gledaš dolje na Zemlju i istodobno gospel-liftom ubrzano putuješ prema sentimentalnom nebu jer te odozdo prži bijela vatra. Religija bez vjere u boga, zazivanje Isusa da se ne bi potpuno izgubila vjera u droge. Ali uvijek ostaje vjera u povijest rock'n'rolla.

"First, I want to address Lucy Cage’s powerful response to Sweet Heart Sweet Light, in which she takes exception to the video for “Hey Jane”:
“Hey Jane” wears its NSFW like a smug little badge and is a 10 minute long micro-film about a black transvestite prostitute with a small and frightened child who ends up beaten to a bloody pulp by a repressed and shamed white trick. It is repellent and upsetting and I don’t care what Art is allowed to do, I don’t like it. I don’t like the fact that every fist fall, every crunch of boot on facial bones, is filmed in detail and at length. I don’t like what it appears to be saying about people. I don’t like that said whiney, white, self-pitying, copyist, imagination-free, privilege-flaunting cisman from England has used this story and these characters from waaaaaaaaaaay outside his experience, knowledge or culture as entertainment, however much Art has given him a hall pass to do so. That he thinks he can harvest grit by association. That he has licence to use such sad and graphic images of others’ sexuality and poverty and lifestyle and even death to imply his own hipness/toughness.

Although I’m put off by her tone, I take her criticism seriously. I just happen to think that she is wrong. I have nothing to say here to those whose lives are marked by sexual violence, racial inequality, or poverty. There is more pain (targeted, structural, and unique) than my words could ever suggest, and I mean no disrespect by giving it so little space here. But, more abstractly, I think it is unfair to equate suffering with subjectivity or with, for lack of a better phrase, “identity politics.” Suffering (qua suffering) knows no particular identity. If J. Spaceman is exploiting his own suffering, he is doing so no more than any other confessional artist. (And yes, in humility, we must accept that the privileged carry with them their own suffering. The middle-aged white man is no more or less vulnerable, in a very real sense; no one is liberated from its history. This is the fundamental and often unbearable fact of existence. And there is no competition; there is just unchecked privilege, which I won’t accuse Spaceman of here.) Maybe he is being disingenuous, but I suspect he’s not. And when I watch his video for “Hey Jane,” I see nothing alien to his own story as he has given it to us: a precarious grace revealed through violence. Ultimately, it seems to me less a question of representation than compassion.

Furthermore, when was the last time a music video actually reflected the content of its song? While that’s not an excuse for insensitivity, it is a recognition of the state of the medium: the song says one thing, the visuals say another, and “Hey Jane” is clearly propelled by mood rather than by the song’s lyrical substance.

It seems important to say these things, as I’ve often found J. Spaceman’s confessions convincing and moving. They are blunt, lucidly anguished, and decidedly un-lyrical, so this is a strange admission for me, as I’m most often taken in by opaque, lyrical prose. Yet Spaceman’s words remind me of the late (and last) John Berryman: “ah Wednesday night is hell.” Both remind me that late-style, in extremis, has little-to-no room for pretense. “It’s too late, too late,” he sings “shamelessly.” Elsewhere, twisting his “Won’t Get to Heaven” into a final resignation: “I won’t get to heaven/ Won’t be coming home/ Will not see my mother again/ ‘Cause I’m lost and I’m gone/ This life is too long/ And my willpower was never too strong.” (These words are the entirety of Spiritualized’s 22-year lyrical content summed up into 33 words, adding, it seems, only the missing mother. I want to write about how this is too simple to be moving, but like the lost-love letters I found near a high school recently, sometimes the more honest expression, however pitiful, is the clearest. It is certainly the most vulnerable. Confess your sins and be healed, James writes.) Beyond any accusation of self-pity, there remains a question if Spaceman is too late. He is still miraculously alive. (He thanks his medical staff in Sweet Heart, Sweet Light’s liner notes.) And he never really believed in heaven, anyway. “No God, only religion”: even those who believe I think know that the Name reaches beyond the Name, into the impossible, invisible, anguished core of our materiality. Often, the best we can do is try to speak it. Speaking, singing, ourselves, at least by definition, means there is at least some time left, right? Time to correct wrongs? I don’t blame the naysayers, but I think redemption gets a bad reputation." - Nathan Shaffer

"It’s been nearly four years since the last Spiritualized LP, but just like Songs in A&E, Sweet Heart, Sweet Light arises from a situation not of Jason Pierce’s choosing. While A&E is named for the Royal London Hospital ward in which he was treated for a nasty, life-threatening bout of pneumonia, Sweet Heart was created during treatment for a degenerative liver disease, which necessitated Pierce ingesting an experimental drug cocktail that triggered sensations far from the chemical euphorias of his earlier work. There’s a morbid irony in the fact that a guy who came up making some of the druggiest music imaginable now has to push through his meds to get an album out. Pierce recognizes this: The cover of his breathtaking 1997 album Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space looked like a throwback prescription label, while Sweet Heart’s resembles the world’s most confusing chemical symbol.
Thankfully, Pierce isn’t bummed about his situation. Far from it. Instead, he pushes through his plight, with yet another offering drawn from his trinity of transcendence: love, drugs, and God. From its opening moments, in fact, Sweet Heart packs in one of Pierce’s most impressive works yet. “Hey Jane” is a nearly nine-minute Britpop throwback in two parts: The first bit grooves until it quickly collapses into itself, while the second part takes five minutes for a dramatic, James Brown-style rise from the ashes, with Pierce haunting the titular woman: “Hey Jane, are you gonna die?”
Sweet Heart is shot through with this sort of woozy awareness of mortality, draped in Pierce’s signature simple-yet-lush orchestrations. “Jane” is bookended by the gospel-tinged slow burn “So Long You Pretty Thing,” which pairs a church organ with a direct plea to Jesus. The lightheaded string section of “Get What You Deserve” feels like a simulation of an IV-drip hallucination, which Pierce winkingly acknowledges with the double entendre “gonna shoot you while you’re laying down.” Pierce may wish he was dead, as he sings on the George Harrison-tinged anthem “Little Girl,” but as Sweet Heart demonstrates clearly, with the right combination of chemicals, faith, and affection, it’s possible to achieve an imitation of the afterlife from right here on earth." - Eric Harvey

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