A more fitting album-opening line has rarely been offered by a band, local or otherwise, than the one on Lift to Experience's The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads: "This is the story of three Texas boys busy minding their own business," sang Josh T. Pearson, "when the Angel of the Lord appeared." Better yet, it was the first line from the first album by the most influential space-rock and shoegaze band to ever come out of Texas — and also the only one they ever made. Which is why it's such huge news that Lift to Experience is getting back to together.
According to an announcement on Tuesday, Lift to Experience, which includes Pearson, Andy Young and Josh Browning, will reunite for “an exclusive, one-off show” to take place during Guy Garvey’s Meltdown in London on June 10, the group’s first live show in 15 years. Soon thereafter, Mute Records will re-release The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, the landmark record that Pitchfork once called a “ten-gallon prog-emo Biblical concept album about the Texan apocalypse.” So, yes, this is a big deal.
That opening line from "Just As Was Told" set the tone for everything mythic and ultimately fleeting about the band. The Texas-Jerusalem Crossorads was an otherworldly album, a double album at that, released in 2001 via Belle Union in Europe and widely considered to be a seminal album of its genre, not just here but anywhere. That they never recorded another album has only added to the Denton trio's damn-near mythical status.
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In the years after Crossroads' release, Pearson and crew abruptly split, leaving the double concept-album as the trio's lone-standing LP. Pearson went on to find critical success as a solo artist, but Lift to Experience is an act that has mainly lived in legend and rumor at this point. If it weren’t for British DJ John Peel, who eagerly had LTE tape multiple Peel Sessions, we’d have an even smaller number of recordings by the band to dig through.
Yet their influence shouldn't be underestimated. Many fine shoegaze and post-rock bands have emerged in the decade and a half since Crossroads, including a few here in Texas. But LTE excelled by making its own brand of louder-than-Armageddon rock sound only like itself, rendering any comparisons impotent. It’s one thing to be a transcendent act of that ilk — think Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Slint — but it’s another thing entirely to offer such a frenzied approach with that distinctly Texan twang-speak. Putting out a double-album on a first try goes some way to suggesting how ambitious this band was, complete with a recording of a train whistle outside Rubber Gloves.
Now it seems as though Pearson is ready to make sure that as many people as possible understand how big of a deal he and his mates still were all those years ago. In the press release, Pearson says, “Five years ago, I realized there’s no better bands out there. There might be bands as good – I can maybe think of five of them I’d put up with us – but Lift to Experience was as good as it gets.”