Since the release of Lift To Experience's first (and last) album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads
, the band's mastermind, Josh Pearson, has slipped into an existence eerily similar to that of fellow Texan Roky Erickson, leader of 60's psych-rockers The 13th Floor Elevators. The LTE story is just like that of the 13th Floor Elevators and dozens of other bands: brilliant cult band, after a brief existence and limited output, implodes and fades into obscurity. Fortunately, word has surfaced that Josh is returning from his monastic exile into the desert to finally release new music. Josh needs to be making music because his sound and approach to music was/is captivatingly unique. He has the God-fearing, rebel swagger of Johnny Cash and David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower), the angelic vocal chords of Jeff Buckley, and he can whip up a guitar squall like Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine). It's also worth noting that LTE was "discovered" and signed by Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde.
"Falling From Cloud 9" begins, appropriately, sounding like a gathering storm. For the first 30 seconds, Josh unleashes a sandstorm of melody from his guitar and then everything drops away except for his voice gently whispering:
"Rising to the top/Knowing I must fall/
Re-feather the wings - soft, it stings/
to make the crawl to the top and then take the fall again/
blood-soaked, gagged and choked, lying face on the stone,
stripped bare, sucking air/This is my home, it seems,
with the rock and the hard place I'm stuck between"
The reference to Jesus is rather obvious, but the reference is not made in an evangelical or overwrought manner. Actually, you're likely to miss most of what he is saying unless you pay close attention. From what I can gather, Josh seems to be conjuring up these pre-crucifixion moments to echo his own personal struggle over what kind of life he wants to live. Perhaps he perceives himself as "falling from God's grace." The lines "this goddamn cross crushing into my chest/I'm still doing my best" are quite telling. Maybe his religious upbringing is placing a burden of guilt on him for his "life on cloud nine." Like the aforementioned Johnny Cash and David Eugene Edwards, Josh taps into his spirituality as a means to judge and point the finger at himself only. When he's not doing that, his rebel spirit is on full display.
And what wonderful sounds are accompanying this tale of woe? Guitar-playing that tip-toes beautifully between waves of feedback and starburst melody. Did I mention Josh's beautiful voice? In lay terms, just imagine three guys in Stetson hats playing OK Computer in the desert.