Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Flying Saucer Attack

Released 2000 on Drag City
Reviewed by Vinyl Junkie, 17/06/2000ce

Flying Saucer Attack – Mirror (Drag City)

For his second full length excursion into FSAs “Phase 2,” Dave Pearce takes us for a spin through his recent record collection. Recorded between 1997 and 1999, almost everything has a sense of, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra “déjà vu all over again.” The title and album cover artwork alone are nicked straight from Neil Young’s collaboration with Pearl Jam. The opening cut, “Space (1999)” is yet another rendition of the track Dave covered for the Pearls Before Swine/Tom Rapp tribute album, For the Dead in Space. [NB: Tom’s version finally makes an appearance on his current Woronzow release, A Journal of the Plague Year, – see separate review.]

“Suncatcher” wouldn’t be out of place on that LP either: a quiet melancholic dream accompanied by Dave’s gentle finger picking and whispered vocals that wouldn’t wake your grandmother. Based on the evidence of this track, Dave has opened a whole new vista of possibilities for himself. I’d like to see him try an entire LP in this folky vein. Could “Phase 3” lurk around the corner?

Borrowing its melody from the traditional “Captain’s Apprentice,”
“Islands” ventures back into old familiar FSA guitarritory. His droning, amplified glissando guitar wafts over a driving, repetitive bass riff, but once again his airy, almost breathless voice is almost lost in the swooshy production like a lost soul in outer space. The lyrics, therefore, are unintelligible, so the vocals serve as an additional instrument to be tweaked, bended and distorted with the rest of the mix a la Liz Fraser from vintage Cocteau Twins. Returning to his folky (!?) roots,
“Tides” gently ebbs and flows like a bright summer day. It’s so beautiful (and startling, based on what we’ve come to expect from FSA in the past) that the lyrics don’t really matter. Late night fireplace fare for lovers of the ethereal!

Hip hop jungle beats seem to be pretty popular these days, so next Dave rips a chapter from the Chemical Bros. book of magic tricks and gives it a go. If
“Chemicals” was meant to be a tongue in cheeky satirical jab at this unfortunate new subgenre of studio wankery and electronic wizardry, I’ll give it a 6: it’s giving me a splitting headache, but you can sort of dance to it – if you’re David Byrne trying out for the role of the Elasticman superhero! However, if this is supposed to be a serious exploration of the next big thing in electronic dance music, I’ll take OMD any day. Unfortunately, Dave doesn’t know when to leave bad enough alone and
“Wintersong” comes on like a Chinese fire drill, kitchen (out of) synch included. Over an annoying electronic jackhammer drumbeat, Dave goes all Kevin Shields on us. Now I’m as troubled by My Bloody Valentine withdrawal symptoms as the next guy, but this is no way to curb my (or anyone else’s) bloodlust. Nor is
“River,” which attempts to marry MBV with Jesus and Mary Chain and fails at both. Divorce papers are in the mail. Gounds: aural cruelty.

Having tried and failed miserably at replicating the Chemical Bros. mess, Dave unearths the “Dust” Bros. next with much better results. Chanting “She is all that I can be/She is all that I can see” like a stoner mantra over a wicked bass line, Dave turns in his finest guitar work in years. The melody imbeds itself into your cerebellum long enough to ignore the lockgroovefest that is “Rise.” More annoying motorik drum machines get the heart racing faster than a speeding bullet and the Wobblesque bass ruminations are amongst the heaviest this side of the PiL box, which is what you’ll be reaching for halfway through this migraine-inducing fodderstompf. Could those be strings wandering around in there cascading to the flatliner ending? STRINGS? On a FSA album?! What is the world coming to?

An end, if “Star City” is any indication, as it wraps things up in an industrial apocalypse where outer space white noise dissects vintage Hawkwind metal machine music in a Loop-y operating room. Paging Dr. Caligari; your patient is ready now.

Like a greatest hits package covering an amalgam of styles, false starts, radio friendly ear candy and avant garde experimental “What the fucks?,” Mirror reflects what Dave Pearce has encountered over the final years of the closing decade of the 20th century. His appearances at Terrastock have opened his ears to what the kids are up to these days, but old timers like Tom Rapp and Neil Young have also buried themselves in his musical psyche. Regurgitating folk, jungle, drone, white noise and electronica onto a K-tel style platter of “this week’s special” leaves the listener with a queasy stomach and a headful of noise that encapsulates what the 90s have wrought. Mirror may be too much of a sonic overload for the less discerning music fan, but the envelope pushers among you may just want to try discovering what it’s like Being Dave Pearce.

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