SPACESHIPS builds a psychedelic fortress of spirituality with PILLARS | album review
I never thought I’d be mentioning psychedelic music and worship music in the same breath, yet here we are.
The first time I heard SPACESHIPS, of Indiana I was at Audiofeed Festival. I heard a massive sound eminating from the impromptu stage, The Front Porch. This noise reminded a lot of psych and sludge leaning bands that helped define the formative years of Tuned Up and making my way around the Columbus scene. I distinctly remember sitting in an avant-garde Chinese influenced bar called Double Happiness in Columbus Ohio, and a spacey psych-rock group called Brujas Del Sol was creating waves of sound washing over me as I sat at the bar, in the smoky glow of red decor, incense, and B-movie art films playing silently on the TV screens above me. I never thought I’d hear a sound that took me back that moment, in a largely faith based music festival in Urbana, IL.
PILLARS is a journey. If all the worship leaders from the Mars Hill movement sat in Double Happiness for several nights in a row I imagine they might be inspired to record an album like PILLARS as well.
This is one of those records that lends itself better to reacting holistically rather than song by song. That being said, there is one song that emerges as a clear favorite, though the balance of the album is hardly inferior. “Monsters” is a barnburner that cuts right through you even amidst the haze. The tempo change midway through and a moment with that riff immediately after is a rush.
Most the album is upward focused, yet also steeped in a bit of conflict. In “Bruised Reeds,” vocalist Nat Fitzgerald directly channels the Psalms, asking “how long, o Lord?” in a sea of dreamy, hazy lament. My favorite lyrics might come in the title track, which directly juxtapose Old Testament uses of the word pillar, as follows:
O Pillar of Cloud / Pillar of Fire where are You now / cause I need a guide my pillars of salt / are scattered behind / burn it all down / burn it all down
These elemental manifestations of the power of God go along with the feelings SPACESHIPS are portraying in their music. Reverent, ethereal, and also acknowledging tension.
I hope you’ll take an hour to dive into this record, regardless of your spiritual leaning. It’s a journey.