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Lift To Experience
The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads Guia Cortassa , February 6th, 2017 21:07

"This is the story of three Texas boys busy mindin' their own business
When the Angel of the Lord appeared unto them..."

Their leader and chief songwriter, one Josh T. Pearson, was the son a preacher-turned-cult-member estranged from his family. With their cowboy hats and starched jeans, the trio would perform under a huge Lone Star flag and longhorn skulls, among buzzing vintage amps. And in 2001, Lift to Experience crafted the perfect Texan auto-fictional epic: a 90-minute concept album painting the trio as the chosen ones – handpicked to help with Christ's second coming – primed with the information that the promised land is (conveniently) none other than Texas itself. The magnetic power of Pearson's voice and guitars, with the help of Josh "Bear" Browning's bass and Andy "the Boy" Young, a jazz-trained drummer, turned each show into a hypnotic and electric Mass.

But, as all the Gospels teach, nemo propheta in patria: no man is a prophet in his own land, and The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads couldn't find a home on any label in the U.S. willing to release it, where it could have been easily tagged as Christian Rock and everything that comes with it. But, as fate would have it, the demo made its way into the hands of Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie from Bella Union and the British label took the leap. With no budget available, though, the only way to mix the album was for Raymonde, who had no actual engineering experience, to undertake the task himself.

"When the Lord said, "Son! Tell the world before it explodes
The glory of the Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads."
I said, "Lord I'll make you a deal;
I will if you give me a smash hit so I can build a 'city on a hill'."
And He said, "Son! I will if you will."
I said, "My sweet Lord, it's a deal.""

But things soon crashed quickly for Lift to Experience: (perhaps unsurprisingly) unhappy with the mix, impeded by the lack of distribution in the US, and pressured by personal issues, the band broke up, leaving behind a cult, masterpiece album, unknown to most. But every Messiah gets their second coming: more than 15 years after his first release, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads has found a new home with Mute, who have in turn provided the mix that this album always deserved.

For those who already know the album, listening to its new sonic makeup will be a puzzling experience – similar to reading a new translation of a dear book.

The thick, raw wall of sound that covered Pearson's deep voice, a dramatic murmur counterbalanced by parts in a more open timbre, has lost much of its obscurity. The mark of Lift to Experience's peculiar brand of shoegaze has been given a new multidimensional tone, acquiring psychedelic nuances and bestowed with a fresh loudness. Layers of reverberated voices were added to tracks like ‘Down Came the Angels’, increasing the gothic, churchlike atmosphere. The big, phased, space guitars of ‘Falling From Cloud 9’ – a song anticipating in its melody fellow Dentonite Midlake's ‘Van Occupanther’, and ‘Waiting to Hit’ – came close to disappearing, only to find a new place as a haunting presence in the long ‘With Crippled Wings’.

The messy ‘The Ground So Soft’ is finally tidied up without losing its complex tiered structure, gaining more volume – more noise – somewhere in the process. The iconic, megaphone-filtered voice of ‘When Shall We Touch’ gives way to a clear vocal part – more comprehensible but less alluring. The wrenching ‘Down With the Prophets’, once a lo-fi acoustic guitar and voice track, is enriched with strings for an overstriking and impressive effect.

Those who approach The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads in its reissued format for the first time, however, will find a majestic album telling a sprawling Texas story; roaming from the US to the Holy Lands. Maybe a little less magic than before, privileging as it does the huge depth of its new, enhanced sonancy over the narrative, but with a thundering energy ready to strike the listener like God’s own lightning.

"Just a stupid ranch hand in a Texas rock band
Trying to understand God's masterplan"

According to the Texas State Historical Association, up until the 1970s no less than two Jerusalem’s were listed on State maps, but no traces of them remained at the turn of the Millennium. Though neither was near Denton, where Lift To Experience’s story began, one of them wasn’t all that far from another small, still-existing town: Palestine, TX.