After years of superfandom and now months of conversation with the artist and his closest collaborators, writer and filmmaker Andy Capper has found the meaning behind the visual work of Spiritualized mastermind J. Spaceman. Sort of.
The art and aesthetics that accompany the music of Spiritualized are some of the most arresting in the canon of modern music. One man’s opinion, of course. J. Spaceman (né Jason Pierce), the sole mastermind behind Spiritualized, composes across gospel, garage, rock ’n’ roll, free jazz, and drone all in one, music wrapped around his fragile but commanding voice. Since beginning his career in music in 1982, in a band called Spacemen 3, which channeled the Stooges, Suicide, and the blues, Jason has been a near-mythological figure to his most loyal devotees. That’s apparent in the visual representations of his work: on his album covers, which nod to the abstract art of Bridget Riley, pharmaceutical packaging, and religious iconography, and in his promos videos, where he plays a lost, lonely bluesman wandering around deserts, volcanoes, and frozen lakes in a spacesuit. A sole Spaceman, indeed.
Something else happens on stage. Spiritualized concerts are all about intense strobe lights in sundry colors: deep blues, perfect purples, and fiery oranges. On recent outings, like the band’s spring 2022 American West Coast dates, which I accompanied Spaceman on as a longtime fan-turned-friend, he was, as always, an obscured silhouette at stage left—a magnetic, shadowy figure that barely moves, except to lead the band by tapping his silver-toed boots. Always with those metallic shoes.