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Flying Saucer Attack

Flying Saucer Attack

Post-rock band

For The Record

Selected discography

Sources

Arriving on the independent music scene in the early to mid-1990s, Flying Saucer Attackwith its folk songs and feedback sculptureswas the new band of choice among underground hipsters and space-rock enthusiasts throughout the United Kingdom and the United States. After performing at the inaugural Terras-tock music festival, as well as releasing a long-awaited studio album in 1997, the acclaimed New Lands, Flying Saucer Attack seemed poised to take on the world with their trance-like, cerebral sound. However, two and a half years passed before Flying Saucer Attacks return. As David (Dave) Pearce, now the projects sole commander, told Fred Mills in an interview for Magnet, I cracked up for a little while, basically.

While exaggerating the circumstances of his self-imposed exile from music, the time off nonetheless proved beneficial, evidenced by Pearces impressive step forward with 2000s Mirror. I think this one has something, the musician agreed. And its a blessed relief, because all these years down the line you worry that you may have completely blown it. By nature, Pearce, in spite of critical accolades, has always second-guessed his talent, a common trait of many artists that can, paradoxically, either further creative development or stop the flow of ideas completely. Indeed, self-doubt was part of the reason why Pearce, who had spent months meticulously recording and editing New Lands, began to fall apart. But it wasnt only a feeling of, Oh, my musics all wrong. It was also more stuff. About that time, things just werent working upstairs in the attic, either.

Besides the harsh self-criticism, Pearce was also, he soon discovered, in the midst of a bout with clinical depression, a case that grew so deep that he quit altogether playing guitar and turning on his tape machine for a full 12 months. And when Pearce finally did pick up his instrument again, his return to music was usually marked by short bursts of playing followed by hours of just listening to the recordings. Its like I didnt have an approach anymore, he revealed to Mills. My sort of sense of purpose and even my musical purpose just, I dont know The last two years have disappeared completely. Prozac probably explains why Im still here. [Depression] is something that runs in my family. Unlike so many who live with such an affliction for years, Pearce eventually recovered his purpose, uncovering some of the best compositions of his career.

At the onset of his artistic journey, however, Pearce had no problem in keeping his creative juices flowing. The history of Flying Saucer Attack, also known as FSA, is intertwined with various other bandsCrescent, Movietone, AMP, Third Eye Foundation, and othersthat formed in and around Bristol, England, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pearce, who from 1983 through 1986 was involved with a school band called HaHaHa and later Mexican Embassy, on occasion played with but was not a formal member of these groups. Nonetheless, they all shared a common bond. As a student in the late 1980s attending Farnham Art College, Pearce met a number of musically inclined fellow students and friends. Together, they formed a band called the Secret Garden, but never released any material. Secret Garden only recorded rehearsal tapes and played just two gigs before Pearce, along with Secret Garden member Richard (who later formed AMP), decided to focus on their own project called Distance. Pieces of their collaborations, demo tapes recorded in 1991, would crop up from time to time on AMP and Flying Saucer Attack material.

Between 1991 and 1992, Pearce joined another band that recorded only rehearsal tapes called Lyndas Strange Vacation. The bass player for that group, Rachel Brook, was Pearces girlfriend, and in the summer of 1992, they decided to leave Lyndas Strange Vacation in order to follow their own musical instincts. Initially, the duo, taking the moniker Flying Saucer Attack from the title of a Los Rezillos song, was a studio-based project for Pearce and Brook to explore their art-psychedelic influences, most notably Can, Syd Barrett, Wire, John Coltrane, Nick Drake, Roy Harper, A.R. Kane, and especially Krautrockers Popul Vuh.

In many ways, it was a nice time, Pearce reminisced, as quoted by Mills, about FSAs beginnings. It was different with those early records. It was a we. Rachel was 19 or 20, and I was in my mid-20s. And I was still working in a record shop, a shop not many people came into but most of the people who did knew each

For The Record

Members include Rachel Brook (left band in 1995), bass guitar; David Pearce, guitar, vocals, other instruments.

Formed Flying Saucer Attack in Bristol, England, 1992; released self-titled debut album, 1993; released Chorus, marking the end of the projects phase one; Pearce returned alone as FSA to release the acclaimed New Lands, gave high-profile performance at Terrastock, 1997; released Mirror, 2000.

Addresses: Record company Drag City, P.O. Box 476867, Chicago, IL 60647, (312) 455-1015, e-mail: [email protected] Website Flying Saucer Attack: Phase Two: http://www.dsl.org/fsa.

other. Movietone (Brooks other band) was getting together at the same time. Crescent was, too. Third Eye Foundation was starting and was involved in everyones bands. And, OK, we might have been playing gigs to 30 people in a back room in Bristol, but there was always something going on. There would be the odd trek up to London to play a gig, and there were all these little records coming out. The point is, everyone was seeming to do something. So all those early FSA records were fueled by that.

In March of 1993, Flying Saucer Attack released the single Soaring High/Standing Stone, followed in June of that year by a second single entitled Wish/Oceans. Both singles were recorded for their own FSA label (distributed by VHF in America in 1994). In November of 1993, FSA made their full-length debut with the home-recorded Flying Saucer Attack. Centered around the pairs sonic explorationsdense and feedback-loaded one moment and pastoral the nextand notorious for a fuzzy guitar cover of Suedes The Drown-ers, the vinyl-only album sold out within no time to fans starved for Spaceman 3 and My Bloody Valentine.

Winning a small underground following in the United Kingdom and the United States for their unique blend of British folk/pop driven through odd effects, Flying Saucer Attack followed with the single Land Beyond the Sun, released in October of 1994, and a second album of their first few singles and other material entitled Distance, released in November of that year on VHF. Fuzzy, experimental and gloomily atmospheric, described Richard Fontenoy in Rock: The Rough Guide, each track is a still-life approximation of a waking dream-statedrumless and post-rock. Standout tracks included the acoustic Instrumental Wish and the tempered-rock Standing Stone.

Signing with Chicagos Drag City label to distribute in the United States, FSA returned with Further In 1995, an album that retained the duos lo-fidelity recording methods. Like their previous work, Further was recorded at home on a four-track without digital assistance. The music press showered the album with favorable reviews. Alternative Press, for example, declared that the record revealed some of the sparsest, most emotional music you ever want to astral project to. Chorus, a compilation of radio sessions and singles from before and after Further, arrived in 1995. With this album, Flying Saucer Attack ambiguously declared the end of phase one of their existence, hinting at a mysterious phase two to come.

By now, the romantic relationship between Pearce and Brooks had begun to deteriorate, and after the release of Chorus, Brooks departed FSA in order to fully concentrate on her other project, Movietone. Subsequently, Pearce returned solo under the Flying Saucer Attack name to release the Sally Free and Easy EP in 1996, followed by the highly anticipated New Lands in 1997. The second phase of FSA, more of a gradual change in direction than a radical departure, won the same critical support of the projects prior efforts. Pearce taps into a mood that is at once mystical and effusive, commented Magnet In its review, murmuring sweet nothings over elongated, shimmering riffs that send molten jets of harmonics and undertones in all directions.

Following Pearces unfortunate absence from music, Flying Saucer Attack made a comeback of sorts in 2000 with Mirror, revealing some of the artists most folk-inspired pieces to date. Mirror finds him tinkering with his trademark lo-fi, drumless drone formula some numbers clank and crunch with an ominous rock/techno flairand replacing his usual intangible vocal mumbling with gently forthcoming, folk-styled singing on the albums most haunting tunes. Apparently back to making music without interruptions, Pearce, at the time of Mirrors release, had already started work on his next LP, rumored to be a mostly acoustic set.

Selected discography

Flying Saucer Attack, (United Kingdom) FSA, 1993; VHF, 1994.

Distance, VHF, 1994.

Further, Drag City, 1995.

Chorus, Drag City, 1995.

Sally Free and Easy, (EP), Drag City, 1996.

New Lands, Drag City, 1997.

Mirror, Drag City, 2000.

Sources

Books

Buckley, Jonathan and others, editors, Rock: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides Ltd., 1999.

Periodicals

Alternative Press, August 1995, p. 85.

Magnet, March/April 1998, p. 65; April/May 2000, pp. 51-54.

Melody Maker, October 14, 1995.

Rolling Stone, August 24, 1995; April 4, 1996.

Village Voice, February 20, 1996; May 6, 1997.

Online

Flying Saucer Attack: Phase Two, http://www.dsl.org/fsa (June 12, 2000).

Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (June 12, 2000).

Sonicnet.com, http://www.sonicnet.com (June 12, 2000).

Laura Hightower

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