Poem Rocket is a musical group consisting mainly of husband and wife songwriters Michael Peters and Sandra Gardner since its inception in 1994. Based in New York City, Poem Rocket toured frequently from the mid-1990s to 2001, releasing a limited, but acclaimed number of recordings. After a seven-year hiatus from touring and recording, Poem Rocket released the double-album Invasion! on Atavistic in 2007.
… an interior travelogue twisting the band’s rich, dramatic vocal style with the musicality of White Album-era Beatles, the drone of Joy Division and a love for classic concept albums and Morricone soundtracks.
—The Big Takeover
Major releases, not including singles and compilation appearances, include:
- Into the Æther, EP (Bear/Car Crash, 1995)—“Single of the Week” in Melody Maker
- Felix Culpa (PCP, 1996)
- Infinite Retry on Parallel Time-Out (PCP, 1998)
- The Universe Explained in Six Songs EP (Magic Eye, 1999)
- psychogeography (Atavistic, 2000)—No. 33 in AP’s “The 50 Best Albums of 2000”
- Invasion! (Atavistic, 2007)
With something akin to spiritualist tendencies and an array of literary/artistic inspirations, Poem Rocket (taken from the Allen Ginsberg poem) pursued interests across a conceptual spectrum—from punctuation and computer programming to subjects like UFOs, Native American mythology, and space travel by car. For example, Poem Rocket’s first single was titled “Period” while the album title Infinite Retry on Parallel Time-Out was taken from the phrase a “PC” would flash on its screen when it was frozen, and in turn, the relations of chance, determinism, and history were explored both lyrically and musically. An entire Poem Rocket album, psychogeography, explored the concept of cities through Situationist conceptions of “psychogeography,” what Guy Debord called a possible point of study: Namely, “the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.”
… a band with guitars and more than one idea. If Poem Rocket were English they’d probably be Flying Saucer Attack … a dense sonic fog of apocalyptic drones … dig the atmospherics and the vibes, piano and cello that creep out and back in again like audio leprechauns …
With or without an awareness of the literary-art references, Poem Rocket lyrics were a mix of poetic, philosophical, and somewhat spiritual invocations and incantations. In each song, Poem Rocket explored the formal, stochastic limits of psych-rock, noise, experimentation, and pop. Live performances would often began with soft acoustic songs performed without microphones at the edge of the stage or in the audience, but would quickly increase in volume and emotional intensity. Performances were periodically characterized by strange happenings—on and off stage—which were brought on by the ritualistic breakdown of the stage/audience barrier. On certain occasions, band members actually disappeared from the stage’s edge and strange lights would suddenly come on—or inexplicably go out.
Upon the release of 2007′s Invasion!, a New York City DJ reportedly said on the airwaves of WFMU, “These guys [Poem Rocket] would have been big in another universe.” Note, however, that older Poem Rocket recordings have been located more recently on places like Last.fm while the more recent recording, Invasion!, can be found on Pandora radio and Spotify. And according to the latest in spectroscopy and cosmology, this universe—the one that you’re reading this in—is still expanding. Via the potential of expansion and congruence, that alleged “would-have-been other universe” is already interpenetrating this universe. Evidence of this merger can be found in a number of locales very close to where you are right now.
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