Spacemen 3
Playing With Fire



by HumanCannonball USER (18 Reviews)
December 31st, 2006 | 15 replies

Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The British trio Spacemen 3 created a sound-that puts you in near-total oblivion. It turns out, that the band was merely a decade or so ahead of its time with their work. Playing With Fire puts you into a psychadelic space rock frenzy.

Who are Spacemen 3"

Spacemen 3 were an English Psychadelic/Space Rock band who formed in 1982 and whose career spanned from the post-punk to Acid House eras. This highly influential group's minimal sound, characterised by droning guitars, softly sung/spoken vocals and sparse or monolithic drumming would be adopted by the shoegazing movement that would eventually dominate the underground. Their sound also formed the basis for post-rock. Spacemen 3 consisted of the core of Jason Pierce and Peter Kember (Pierce sometimes credited as J. Spaceman and Kember usually known as Sonic Boom), who formed the group in Rugby, Warwickshire having met at art college. Other members of what would become a fluid line-up over the years included Pete Bain (Bassman, also of The Darkside), Natty Brooker, Sterling Roswell (Rosco), Will Carruthers and Jonny Mattock (also of Slipstream).

Playing With Fire

Released: 1989
Genre: Space Rock/Psychadelic
Label: Fire (1989)
Taang! (re-release)

The fourth Album of Spacemen 3 begins with the absolute astonishing Honey, a song that has some light organs, weird synths and wonderful droning guitars. The hushed and softly sung add to a mesmerizing experience. The song puts you into a frenzy and builds up a feeling so relaxing and hypnotizing that it's hard to put in words. It sounds like the moment before you fade away where you see your whole life in several short moments. It's a perfect three minute opening that gives a short look of what their sound looks like. Come Down Softly To My Soul continues to build on that feeling that Honey build up, with hardly hearable vocals while the main focus is on the synths and overall sound. The ending fades out slowly and light to continue a more relaxed mood.

When I saw you, you looked so surprised
And the oceans flowed
through your blue-grey eyes
And I stood and gazed
Through hot summer days
So tell me – how do you feel"

Is spoken by main vocalist Pete Kember to open up the breathtaking eight minute and epic sounding How Does It Feel". A poem that is packed into a progressive and gazing sound with synths that are straight out of space. Acoustic guitars connect with them and create a fantastic mood. After five minutes drums slowly kick in with high and balanced vocals to build up the phenomenal ending with electric guitars in the background.

Basicially the first songs are more dreamy psychedelic wanderings, the veritable calm before the storm erupts and the album continues to ebb and flow, finally driving into a full paced wall of sound with the bravely titled Revolution. A single heavy and hard smashing guitar highlighted by primal drumming open up an absolute brilliant song. Kember's snarling vocals and the absolute chaotic lead guitar build up to the the major announcment of this:

But hold on a second
I smell burning
And I see a change
Comin' around the bend
And I suggest to you
That it takes just five seconds
Just five seconds of decision to realise
That the time Is right to start thinkin’ about
A little…Revolution!

The song explodes into a frenzy that is hard to describe in words. A guitar fury errupts and nearly causes an explosion of your brain.

Though Kember has a great approach to vocals (often spoken or in a monotone drawl), it's Jason Pierce who demonstrates the most dynamic vocals with the softly sung So Hot (Wash Away All Of My Tears). The album is building with graceful and hypnotizing songs inbetween moments of sheer assaults like Revolution, the absolute epic and ingenius 11 minute masterpiece entitled Suicide. Another drone based guitar freak-out based along instrumentals, a scary organ line and shuffling drums. The whole song is of course added with the chaotic leadguitar again. As the song develops all sorts of sounds come together to create a magicial sound that put other artists to shame.

~ Honey
~ Revolution
~ Suicide
~ Lord can you hear me"

+ A rollercoaster of sounds and emotions
+ Perfect build up for other songs to blow you away
+ Classic psychadelic space rock

- Some songs take a lot of time and might be too long for other listeners.

It's hard to believe that this album was made in 1989 as it sounds like a typical 60's hippie psychadelic drug classic. The band was merely a decade or so ahead of its time and created one hell of an all-encompassing album. Words can hardly describe this masterpiece. I've also seen a lot of comparisons to Velvet Underground on other sites but this my friends is a lot better in my opinion.

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user ratings (84)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 11th 2007


i cant believe no one, has commented
This Message Edited On 05.12.08

July 23rd 2007


Yeah this is a great band but they don't get much attention outside of the UK. Their music feels epic during every listen. Lord Can You Hear Me? is something else.

November 16th 2013


I love Suicide, exactly the kind of noisy psych I enjoy

Digging: Wanderwelle - Lost in a Sea of Trees

November 16th 2013


Holy crap, this band sounds awesome. I love space rock

November 16th 2013


It's really good man, it has that space rock psychedelic tone coupled with the 90's indie/alternative Sonic Youth and
Flaming Lips feel. Jam: How Does It Feel dude

November 16th 2013


Will do

You jam Farflung - A Wound In Eternity, a masterpiece of space rock

November 16th 2013


Jamming right now

November 17th 2013


What did ya think?

November 17th 2013


Really cool, the vox were really great

November 17th 2013


Whose alt are you anyway, eh?

November 17th 2013


I used to be MrElmo but got permabanned without ever knowing why or appearing in the banned users thread, at the same time I got sick with ratings in general so made myself a new account wich is this one

November 17th 2013


Ah cool, did you try asking them why you were banned in the Meds thread?

November 17th 2013


Nah I hate having to deal with admins, I'm too lazy to be bothered. And I enjoy this new account anyway

October 15th 2016


Lord Can You Hear Me? Is the greatest tune of all time.

Zak fact No.6 it was the first song I ever downloaded on iTunes.

Digging: Swarms - Black Chapel Sun

April 21st 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

Lord Can You Hear Me? is superb. Whole thing is pretty solid

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