Release Date: Jul 17, 2015
Record label: Carrot Top
Bristol-based Flying Saucer Attack were an anomaly when they emerged during the Britpop era. Were they shoegazers? Post-rock pioneers? Instrumentals 2015 is Flying Saucer Attack’s first album in 15 years, and it can only enhance their mystique. David Pearce, now the group’s sole member, has stripped away not only the vocals from his 90s sound, but pretty much everything else apart from his guitar, which is multitracked and treated with distortions and delays.
Of all the early 90s shoegazers, noise-mongers, feedback addicts, and experimental rock enthusiasts, few seem in retrospect more significant and underappreciated than Flying Saucer Attack. They never had the punk grit of Sonic Youth, nor the melodic sensibilities of Slowdive, nor the pulverizing heaviness of Earth, but Flying Saucer Attack had much in common with all of these bands and played very much at the same level of creativity. If you are looking for a distorted, wall-of-sound, reverb laden anthem for experimental rock in the early 90s, look no further than “My Dreaming Hill”, the first track off of Flying Saucer Attack’s self titled debut.
ISTHEGUITARDEAD? “Guitar groups are on their way out, Mr. Epstein.” O_O -_- The argument for and against the death of the guitar is an old, tired one. The guitar is an instrument, a tool, and as such, it’ll probably be used for a long time to come. Consider the obvious fact that the piano didn’t die out when guitar/bass/drums combos became the popular style.
On Flying Saucer Attack's first album in 15 years, it seems as if Dave Pearce is leaving the project's history in the past and rebuilding it from the ground up. Instrumentals 2015 consists entirely of drifting, effects-heavy guitars; no vocals, no acoustic guitars, no Wire covers, no blown-out drum'n'bass breaks. It's the sound of FSA re-emerging from a bunker and cautiously exploring the surface, carefully attempting not to disrupt anything on its initial investigation above ground.
Now this is a warm surprise. After roughly a 15-year hiatus, Dave Pearce has revived Flying Saucer Attack from the ashes—or the clouds—with an album of 15 solo pieces. One for each year off. But then "pieces" seems too cosmopolitan for a project so often deemed "pastoral," no? Landscapes, then ….
Now that enough time has passed, it's been interesting, as someone who came up in the '90s, to see what's transcended the decade and what hasn't. At that time, the mostly forgotten Flying Saucer Attack were important to a lot of people invested in underground psychedelia and noise. The Bristol duo of David Pearce and Rachel Brook, who were dating for a time, often slapped a somber landscape on the front of their albums—sunsets, dark trees, scattered cloud formations, blue moons—and the music matched the pastoral mood these pictures evoked.
In the early 90s, Bristol’s Flying Saucer Attack flew the flag for found-sound drones and guitar feedback wig-outs. Missing, presumed retired, since 2000’s Mirror, FSA main man David Pearce has unexpectedly resurfaced, with a defiantly analogue-sounding collection of untitled instrumentals. If you have read this far, you will have gleaned that “tunes” are not the point here.
To say that the return of Flying Saucer Attack after a 15-year hiatus was unexpected would be an understatement. There were absolutely no murmurs that David Pearce was working on new material until "Instrumental 7" appeared just over a month ago, and by that point, a new album was literally just around the corner.Instrumental 2015 is a bit of a strange beast, even for the Bristol band. It has the feeling of being a transitional album, as Pearce, who is now flying solo, continues to explore his musical horizons.
Though during most of its original existence this Bristolian shoegaze experimentalist outfit was essentially a duo, David Pearce and Rachel Brook, this new incarnation of Flying Saucer Attack – like the latter records from the previous lineage, ending with the self-released Mirror, in 2000 – is a Pearce solo project. “Less is more” ran the legend on one FSA release, celebrating Pearce’s defiance in the face of over-production and digital cleanliness, and emphasising that his DIY compositions were more lo-fi than “lo-fi” could even begin to describe. But if you said that Instrumentals was stark and uncompromisingly confined, that would be both absolutely correct and veering way wide of the mark.
With their would-be American counterparts in Sebadoh, Guided By Voices et al. concocting homespun, genre-splitting DIY indie rock across the pond, Bristol’s Flying Saucer Attack set themselves apart amidst the seismic rumblings of Britpop back in 1994, all but reconstituting British experimental rock with brazen lo-fidelity on their stellar self-titled debut album. Arriving fully-formed, David Pearce’s feedback-soaked craft boasted an ecstatic cinematicism compounding expansive psych sounds with primitive bedroom pastoralism to deliver a release that was equal parts furtive and unassailable.
Flying Saucer Attack — Instrumentals 2015 (Drag City)By this point it’s difficult to feel surprise when news breaks regarding the reappearance of any semi-lauded artist from decades past. Whether chasing ghosts of former glory, bypassed recognition or a decent paycheck, long-dormant bands have emerged from the fog at a rapid rate, dropping new albums — or finishing old ones — jump-starting their vans and placing themselves on the contemporary music scene’s active roster. Flying Saucer Attack, however, have always flaunted their status as contrarians.
For over a decade, there have been few reported sightings of Flying Saucer Attack. A delicious run of albums in the 90s gave way to near-total silence at the turn of the new millennium, almost as if planned. Over time, the Bristolian experimentalists have been whittled down to a one-man band, consisting of core member David Pearce. You could call them space-, post-, avant-, or whichever prefix you might apply to 'rock' in order to emphasise the decentralisation of ego and retrospection in the context of otherwise traditional rock instrumentation.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about the smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar? We’ve rounded up nine of the best new album releases from this week, from Sea Of Bees’ folkie emotion to De Lux’s disco shimmies: don’t miss out..
The Upshot: Returning after a 15-year silence, British guitarist-composer David Pearce serves up atmospheric swells, floating melodies and occasional swaths of noise—pure FSAness at that—not to mention some of the most inscrutable songtitles ever drafted. As billed, Instrumentals, Flying Saucer Attack’s eleventh album and first collection of new material in 15 years, consists of strictly wordless pieces. Fans of David Pearce’s longtime project know what to expect – guitar moods driven not by heroics but by atmospheric swells, floating melodies and occasional swaths of noise – and that’s exactly what Pearce delivers.