Kember and Jason Pierce (born on the same day in Rugby, Warwickshire) formed Spacemen 3 in 1985. Sonic Boom’s first solo album, Spectrum, was recorded in 1989 while Spacemen 3 were still a going concern, and featured the other members of the group. However, by 1991 relations with Pierce had broken down, and while Pierce went on with the other members of Spacemen 3 to form Spiritualized, Kember recruited new musicians for the group Spectrum. He has also recorded as E.A.R. - the two projects have existed in parallel, and recordings under both names occasionally only feature Kember. Kember has also played and collaborated with Stereolab and Yo La Tengo.
Initial Spectrum releases carried on from the sound of late-period Spacemen 3, featuring conventional songs and a regular band. First single “How You Satisfy Me” was an original composition reminiscent of 1960s garage bands. 1992’s Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) was split between songs and longer experimental pieces featuring drones and repetition, and Highs, Lows and Heavenly Blows (1994) was also mainly song-oriented. Occasionally Jessamine and The Silver Apples have collaborated with Kember using the Spectrum name. From 1996 the name has been used for Kember’s solo work, usually with Pete Bassman (Pete Bain) from the original Spacemen 3 lineup and recording engineer/musician Alf Hardy. The music made with Bain and Hardy was often in the same vein as E.A.R., reflecting an increased interest in vintage analogue synthesizers, especially those made by EMS. The most recent full-length Spectrum album is 1997’s Forever Alien and Kember has not released music as Spectrum since 1999: a new album is mid-way through recording with Füxa’s Randall Nieman, though on hold due to other recording and live commitments.
Although the first E.A.R. album to be released (Mesmerised, 1994) was Kember on his own, the initial intention of E.A.R. was to record experimental “soundscape” music with collaborators. The second album (the first to be recorded, however) was Beyond the Pale (1996, recorded 1992), which featured My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, Kevin Martin and AMM’s Eddie Prévost. The album was remixed by German musician Thomas Köner in 1997, and released as The Köner Experiment. Prévost also appeared on Phenomena 256 (1996) and Millennium Music (1998), both of which featured a larger group of musicians. Data Rape (1998) was recorded solely by Kember, using the technique of circuit bending, which he continued to use on the EP Vibrations (2000) and album Continuum (2001). The latter two releases were made with assistance from Delia Derbyshire, formerly of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who also had a track named after her on the Spectrum album Forever Alien. The most recent E.A.R. release is Worn to a Shadow (2005).
Packaging and formats
Spectrum and E.A.R. releases have often featured elaborate packaging, unusual formats, or limited editions. Some notable examples are:
* The LP version of the Sonic Boom album Spectrum came with a revolving “Op art” sleeve. 2000 copies came with a slip allowing purchasers to also buy a limited 10” coloured vinyl EP. The EP contained experimental drone recordings, with instructions to play at 16, 33, 45 or 78 r.p.m.
* The group Spectrum’s first album Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) was originally released in a transparent PVC sleeve, with a blue oil and water mixture contained within it. The LP was pressed on transparent vinyl.
* E.A.R.’s first single release was Pocket Symphony, a 5” vinyl record with cover art by Anthony Ausgang.
* E.A.R.’s “Sub Aqua / Tidal / Lunar” (1995) was an 8” vinyl release, a picture disc with a locked groove at the end of the second side.
* “Sputnik” (1997), a split single with Thurston Moore and Don Fleming on the other side, was pressed on glittery 7” vinyl.
* Another 7” single, “Data Rape (part 9)” has a drawing by artist Savage Pencil scratched onto the B-side instead of music.
* 1998’s “Death of a Robot” is pressed on 9” clear vinyl.
* Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) (1992)
* Highs, Lows and Heavenly Blows (1994)
* Forever Alien (1997)
* Live Chronicles Vol. 1 (2001, released through SpaceAge Recordings)
* Live Chronicles Vol. 2 (2001, released through SpaceAge Recordings)
Compilations, EPs, singles and special releases
* How You Satisfy Me (1992)
* True Love Will Find You in the End (1992)
* Indian Summer (1993)
* California Lullabye (1994)
* Undo the Taboo (1994)
* Songs for Owsley (1996)
* Feels Like I’m Slipping Away (1997)
* What Came Before After (1997)
* A Lake of Teardrops (1999)
* Interface/Come Out to Play (1999)
* Refractions: Thru the Rhythms of Time 1989-1997 (2004)
Edited by mr_orange_ringo on 8 Sep 2008, 06:08
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