Although the Big Bang of late 80s “Madchester’s Second Summer of Love” gave birth to a a variety of musical genre universes, still expanding, I’m tempted to say that Screamadelica remains it’s perfect, truest sun.
Post-millenium, post-internetblogculture, post-genre, post-object, post-everything, we exist in a time and place marred by what author William Gibson calls, “atemporality.” The timeline of history has exploded and everything runs parallel to everything else. A multiple tabs in the browser and “Suggestions from” Netflix, Youtube, iTunes logic prevades everything. It is the HOW we think now.
At the risk of turning it into an obelisk of Kubrickian proportions, Screamadelica is an exemplary signifier of the shift in consciousness.
I cannot pretend to have been there, I only have the music and the continued, endless shockwaves of the original scene as my lamplights, but the fact is that Rave culture had taken the mind-bending experimentation of the 60s and married it to the body. The hippie smiley face pin became not only an ideal for living, but a literal expression of an actual irrepressible bliss.
Having had the benefit of being a Glaswegian band with a penchant for more jangly indie-pop and also having had the benefit one generation removed from the Factory Records flashpoint, Primal Scream didn’t collapse or implode like many of Madchester’s trailblazers. Here was a band close enough to conduct heat while not getting burned. There are plenty of stories of post-album/tour excess…but, at the time, like Earth in relation to the Sun, they were just close enough to generate a life sustaining greenhouse effect…or more accurately, an acidhouse effect.
Guided by Andrew Weatherall, The Orb, Hugo Nicolson, and Jimmy Miller (in retrospect a kind of A-Team of producers,) Screamadelica took acid-dipped garage rock, ambient/techno, dub, hip-hop sampling, gospel…filtered all of it through house music, then played it all like rock n roll again. The album is all of those things, and none of them simultaneously. It achieves it’s own blissed-out remarkable smiley face genre status. Amazingly, for all of it’s sprawl (“Loaded” begins with a sample of Peter Fonda’s funeral freakout in The Wild Angels AND had a sick sample of Edie Brickell’s “What I Am” & “Slip Inside This House” is a 13th Floor Elevators cover) the clarity of vision is stunning. Although the album is full of gorgeous tracks you could listen to on their own (repeatedly,) Screamadelica is a trip and is best listened to as a whole.
It starts high and getting higher with “Movin’ On Up” and goes “Higher than the Sun” (TWICE) and ends at the farthest reaches of the cosmos where it will infinitely “Shine like Stars.”
A decade later in their continually stunning career, perpetual badass Bobby Gillespie and co. opened an album with a track called, “Deep Hit of Morning Sun.” That’s real good, and it’s totally Screamadelic, but the center of the universe will forever remain, Screamadelica.