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Album Review

Two of rock's great eccentrics have a meeting of the minds on this album, which finds Sonic Boom (aka Spectrum, and known to his mom as Pete Kember), the trance-rock acid evangelist of Spacemen 3 and Experimental Audio Research, sharing the studio with Jim Dickinson (here trading as Captain Memphis), who helped Alex Chilton craft Big Star's damaged masterwork Third/Sister Lovers and has worked with everyone from Ry Cooder and the Rolling Stones to the Replacements and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. While most of the musicians on Indian Giver are Memphis cats who have a history with Dickinson, Randall Nieman of Füxa serves as Sonic Boom's right-hand man here on guitar and keyboards, and he helps keep the approach of the album balanced. The songs have a deep, trippy feel with plenty of the droning textures and overdriven guitars Kember is famous for, but Dickinson and his pals help give the performances a solidly organic groove that speaks of the Deep South, complete with spooky found noises and crickets chirping in the background, and Dickinson's recitations on "The Lonesome Death of Johnny Ace," "Til Your Mainline Comes," and "The Old Cow Died" sound like an inspired fusion of Nick Tosches and James Ellroy gone beatnik. (Kember is a better singer, but he isn't half as good a storyteller.) Sonic Boom and Dickinson seem to be having fun tossing these songs back and forth as Southern gothic comes face to face with ecstatic noise, and they bring out fine ideas in one another; this is a Dixie-fried freakout that's appropriately laid-back but emphatic for fans of the right sort of madness.


Formed: 1990

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Spectrum was the most high-profile and straightforward of the projects undertaken by Pete "Sonic Boom" Kember after the demise of the trance-rock avatars Spacemen 3. Because his work as a member of the Experimental Audio Research coterie allowed Kember the opportunity to explore ambient textures and tonal constructs, Spectrum satisfied the singer/guitarist's more conventional pop leanings, while never losing sight of the hypnotic otherworldliness which became his music's trademark and legacy. The...
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Indian Giver, Spectrum
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