Formed from the ashes of the trance-rockers Spacemen 3, singer/guitarist Jason Pierce's group Spiritualized did not break away from his prior band's trademark hypnotic minimalism; instead, they perfected it. Drawing on the continued influence of the Velvet Underground, La Monte Young, and Steve Reich, Spiritualized staked out a common ground between minimalism and lush symphonics -- While the infamous Spacemen 3 tag of "taking drugs to make music to take drugs to" remained a cornerstone of their craft, Spiritualized's very name acknowledged the existence of other forces, and further reflected in their heavy debt to gospel and soul music as well as an affinity for mantras and devotional hymns.
The first Spiritualized release, in 1990, was a cover of The Troggs' "Anyway That You Want Me"; the record heralded the official split of Spacemen 3 following contractual wrangles over the band's name and its use in Spiritualized-related promotional material (initial copies of "Anyway That You Want Me" came with a Spacemen 3 logo on the sleeve).
Evans was replaced on keyboards by Pierce's then-girlfriend Kate Radley for the follow-up single, "Run"/"I Want You". A number of singles followed, before the band, in early 1992, released their first LP Lazer Guided Melodies, which had been recorded in Rugby over the previous two years. A second album, Pure Phase, was released in 1995, and a third Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space emerged in 1997 to critical acclaim and commercial success.
In 1993, Spiritualized were asked to open for Depeche Mode on the European leg of that band's "Devotional Tour". They were met by intolerant and hostile crowds. Consequently they had to leave after only six shows, Gothenburg, Sweden, being the last. According to sources at Mute Records, people in charge thought Depeche Mode's singer Dave Gahan was a Spiritualized fan which led to booking them.
The musical style of Spiritualized relies heavily on sustained 'pedal' notes and drones. Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase incorporate elements of the shoegazing style, drones and tremolo. The landmark Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space saw the influence of African-American gospel and blues beginning to show, while "walls of sound" modelled after the production styles of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson also made their presence felt. Such influences dominated Spiritualized's next album, Let It Come Down, which included over 120 musicians. Amazing Grace favoured a more stripped down sound with the gospel, blues, and soul influences even more dominant than before.
On 15 June 1997, Spiritualized became the last band to play at Factory Records' Manchester nightclub The Haçienda.
After several years of work and Pierce's serious illness in July 2005, the album, Songs in A&E was released on 26 May 2008 in the UK, and on 27 May 2008 in the US. The first single from the 18-track album was "Soul On Fire". The release was backed by an Electric Mainlines UK tour which began in May. Pierce has also scored Harmony Korine's 2008 film Mister Lonely.
Pierce is quoted as saying in a 2008 interview that Spiritualized was scheduled to play the CERN collider. "They asked us to do it! We were gonna play in it before they’d thrown the switch. But it was a timing thing—their timings didn’t coincide with ours."
In October and December 2009 the band performed 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.
After more than two years in the making, while Pierce was undergoing experimental chemotherapy for a liver disease, and including a year long period of mixing, Sweet Heart Sweet Light was released in April 2012, on Double Six Records. The band had already played some of this new material over the past 3 years but not much else was known about the content of the album. The album cover, an octagon surrounding the word "Huh?" on a plain white background, is a reference to the working title of the album. In an interview regarding the new release it was revealed that the album would "embrace" more poppy songs compared to previous albums. In the same interview, Jason Pierce also said that the album was partly inspired by the experiences of performing "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" live in its entirety.