Flying Saucer Attack - Biography
Flying Saucer Attack didn’t last for too terribly long, but they were one of the cooler acts to emerge from the whole post-rock (whatever that means, Simon Reynolds) thing in the early 90s. They had a great, anonymous mystique, lo-fi street cred, and they rained vast torrents of feedback. Plus, beneath all the detached bluster, they had a great ear for gentle folk vibes and some impeccible pop hooks. Oh, and their albums all looked great, with oblique, mysterious, conceptually opaque artwork — and what a killer name! The band was really a duo, formed in Bristol, UK, by guitarists David Pearce and Rachel Brook, while on hiatus from another act called Lynda's Strange Vacation. They made an assiduous point of avoiding the studio, instead recording in their living room on a home stereo system. It doesn’t get much more DIY than that. The early singles were self released, but even when they signed to Drag City, sold a bunch of albums, and got reviewed alongside Pink Floyd in Rolling Stone, Brook and Pearce made certain that Flying Saucer Attack was an organic, down-to-Earth affair.
The first singles gave a good indication, with feedback that seemed to flow instead of shriek, in unusually pleasant waves. “Soaring High” b/w “Standing Stone” (1993 FSA) came in a hand-assembled sleeve in an addition of 400 copies; it was followed by “Wish” b/w “Oceans,” which also came with a handmade sleeve, this time in an edition of 500. Brook and Pearce promptly recorded an eponymous debut LP which was picked up by the indie VHF label and reissued on vinyl and CD. Flying Saucer Attack (1993 FSA/VHF) is a surprisingly rich listen. There’s no great demonstration of technical facility, that’s for sure. The guitar playing is shambolic and ambling at best, but the thing that makes Flying Saucer Attack great is their keen ear for textural juxtapositions and aural dynamics. Genial folk plucking will appear like a rainbow in a storm of white noise; in “A Silent Tide” it takes several moments to discern that beneath a heavy lacquer of raw distortion, a delicate melody has been decoupaged. They also recognize and acknowledge their aural antecedents. “Popol Vuh 2” and Popol Vuh 1” capture the essence of that band better than some Popol Vuh albums. Fans refer to Flying Saucer Attack as Rural Psychedelia, which is a perfect description.
The most curious track on the first album is a cover of “The Drowners,” by pretty-boy glam-rockers Suede, a song which was still on the charts in the UK. Pearce and Brook keep the tempo intact, but they smother the tune and the vocals in blankets of feedback. This garnered Flying Saucer Attack some mainstream attention, which lead to their signing with the big-time indie, Domino; in the US they landed at Drag City. The second album lived up to and surpassed expectations. Further (1995 Drag City) sparkles with detail and nuance, there are more folk leanings, and Pearce’s vocals are more prominent, but it’s a logical continuation of the debut. After Further, there was an excellent singles collection, Chorus (1995 Drag City); a live album, New Lands (1997 Drag City); and a collaboration with New Zealand guitarist Roy Montgomery, Goodbye (1997 VHF). Goodbye was also Rachael Brook’s goodbye to the band. David Pearce recorded a final album as Flying Saucer Attack: Mirror (2000 Drag City), which lacks some of the effortless, biotic warmth of the first LPs. Still, it’s a fine effort and a suitable exit for Flying Saucer Attack. Few bands ever made white noise feel so intimate and cozy.