There was nothing even remotely similar in sound to ‘The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads’ when it was first released in the summer of 2001. The album cover presented three cowpokes who looked like they might be at home on a ranch as much as wielding guitars. Led by Josh T. Pearson on vocals and guitar, with Andy “The Boy” Young on drums and Josh “The Bear” Browning on bass, Lift To Experience suddenly emerged from nowhere, left a scorching testament, and then disappeared just as quickly.
Former Cocteau Twins and Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie had seen them perform at South by South West in 2000 and when the band were looking for a deal they signed them to the British independent record label they founded in 1997, the redoubtable Bella Union. The ecumenical double concept album featuring an Angel of the Lord appearing to beseech the boys to lead people to The Promised Land, in Texas not Israel, may not have been a commercial success but it garnered a legion of devotees and it remains an epic cult recording.
Now fans of the original and new followers can revel in a definitive new mastering and mix of the album. At the time of its creation the Bella Union budget was pitiful and so Raymonde mixed the album in admirable do-it-yourself fashion. Some 15 years later and no expense has been spared in revisiting the original vision for this expansive aural allegory.
The album was originally recorded live to tape, and engineer Matt Pence has mixed those original recordings and captured the energy of the trio playing together. Josh T. Pearson says: “We went back to the studio, neck deep in the heart of Texas, where Lift recorded The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads – remixing the album the way it should have be mixed originally. It's good to have our balls back after years spent being castrated.”
This album is a sonic juggernaut that will blaze down the highway of your mind spitting flame and spiking your blood pressure. Moments of gossamer thin delicacy with Pearson alternating between spoken verses and soaring vocals are perfectly timed breathers before the thunderclap of rumbling guitars and elemental drumming barrel over you once more.
Unsurprisingly, Lift To Experience didn’t escape the attention of John Peel at the turn of the century and he invited them to record three Peel sessions in just five months. The best of these Peel recording is available in the various format deluxe versions of this 15th anniversary release by Mute Records.
“These are the days marching toward us with vengeance in their eyes. These are the days racing towards us with blood on their teeth and lips”. ‘The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads’ is as powerful a statement now as it was then – an hour and a half journey into a lucidly dreamt gothic vision of a struggle to reach the Promised Land in the heart of Texas.
Words: Nick Rice
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