The True Spirit was always conceived as a collective more than a band. Hugo Race walked away from the multiple divorce of garage art rockers The Wreckery convinced of that, and into the freewheeling sample-heavy sessions of his first solo album Rue Morgue Blues which although featuring most members of the Wreckery had an experimental, electronic sound (supported by the production of Not
Drowning Waving guitarist John Phillips). Armed with a debut album, Hugo moved to London in ’89 and then on to Berlin where a new True Spirit line-up formed around Hugo’s solo gigs at the X’n’Pop all night bar on the Mansteinstrasse; slide guitarist Rainer Lingke from Die Haut, drummer Chris Hughes who had recently moved to Berlin from Melbourne, and harmonica ace/producer John Molyneux who recorded Hugo’s 2nd album (Earls World) in his basement studio on the Bregenzerstrasse – these three occasionally joined by Einstuerzende Neubauten guitarist Alex Hacke or maverick trombonist Ralf Droge, and then in ’91 by original Wreckery bassist Bryan Colechin and synth artist/live sound engineer Ash Wednesday. This incarnation of the True Spirit road tested Hugo’s songs across Europe with frequent sojourns in the eastern bloc countries until ’93 and created the rock-styled sound of Hugo’s following albums for the German indie label Normal, Second Revelator (produced by Mick Harvey) and Spiritual Thirst (produced by Chris Thompson). In ’94 the band went into a hiatus as John Molyneux emigrated to Canada and Bryan Colechin moved back to Australia, and it was then that Hugo recorded the solo live album Stations of the Cross in Modena, Italy and began touring alone internationally. The rolling collective next rejoined in Melbourne ’95 with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Michelangelo Russo to record an album for Polygram; Valley of Light, produced by Tony Cohen, became the Spirit’s debut on Glitterhouse, the German label that still release the Spirit in Europe today, and was followed up by the extreme experimentalism of 96’s Wet Dream album which featured clandestine recordings not only by Race but also Chris Hughes’ early electronica. It was this album that marked the Spirit’s conversion to the electro godhead of the age, probably due to artistic contamination in central europe during the long, almost endless, tours that Hugo and the band conducted in the late 90s . Around this time guitarist/pianist Nico Mansy joined the collective for the Chemical Wedding sessions in Brussels, and Norman Fagg became the band’s live mixer and road manager. But by ’98 Norman had moved on to another world and the Spirit was dispersed over five far-flung countries; the Last Frontier album was self-produced on the move as Hugo followed his ritual continental driftings, eventually basing himself in Sicily by circa 00. In 01, Glitterhoused released the double retrospective Long Time Ago and Hugo took a few years out to concentrate on the Helixed projects – Sepiatone, Transfargo and the Merola Matrix. After this total immersion in the experimental and the exotic, Hugo regrouped the Spirit in Melbourne in 03 to record what became the urban hypnosis of the Goldstreet Sessions, and pursued the sessions back to Berlin to include the Spirit’s latest aquisitions – vocalist/pianist Marta Collica, lapsteel specialist Kristof Hahn and guitarist/producer Giovanni Ferrario. This line-up began touring again – with live mixer and road manager Dugald Jayes – and were recorded in Munich for the Italian music magazine Mucchio Selvaggio by the Deutsche Rundfunk, the concert tapes later released as the Live in Monaco cd. In 05 came Ambuscado, inspired by Bryan Colechin’s archive of unreleased Spirit material, where the band experimented with electronic spirituals and rampant psychedelia on a whole new level. By the end of that year the Taoist Priests sessions had already begun in Sicily, with the stated intention of fusing the feral anarchy of Ambuscado with Hugo’s recent slew of politically orientated songs. Released in 06, the Spirit convened back in Berlin to embark on a three-month tour, at the end of which, in between shows in Italy and Poland, they started the sessions for the forthcoming 53rd State album, scheduled for release in 07.