Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spektr : " Cypher"

Even though I have listened to the most recent release by the French duo I'm still unsure how I feel about the finished product it often invokes post-alien abduction level depression and disorientation upon listening to it. It feels more like the sound track to a David Lynch film than a black metal album, though by most definitions it would qualify as that as well. All too often the words Ambiant and experimental get tossed around in conjunction with the genre and this is one of the first releases I have heard in a minute to be deserving of that title, though ironically I got the new Botanist album this week as well and it might be just as weird but if a different sense. The album opener changes gears with almost Mr. Bungle like abandon.

Where vocals should sit are instead samples, this gives it a more industrial feel as well as some of the more robotic elements to the drumming which fluxuatea between sounding like drum machines and real drums, i know their are programs like sonor which can emulate real drums to this effect but something in the way it sounds to me like the key is tuned and the snare has a flat lo fi resonance at times that makes me suspect in these places there are live drums, this might conflict with other reviews out there who claim the album is comprised solely of drum machines but I think though programming plays heavily in the mix here , there are acoustic drums used in some capacity.

Some of the more black metal parts have an almost Immortal feel as in they are trashy around the edges and the chords are allowed to ring out rather than become a constant sonic drone. in what I think of as the actual opening song, "Teratology" within the first three minutes they drift into and back into metal. This is an instrumental album so for it to have demanded so many repeat listens from me is impressive, as I am a singer myself and vocals are normally the first thing to grip me with any we album and like we saw with the new DarkThrone can sometimes distract me, though in their case it was something I was able to work around, there are abrasive mechanical blips which sometimes sound like they could be a distorted growl that haunt some of the edges here and there, but for the most part the album is dominated by dissonant riffing and the guitars are the instrument taking the spotlight. The distressed exterior of the songs is coated in a rusty fuzz of noise often more Ambiant than abrasive.

The songs transition seamlessly into one another as the soundscape are perfectly blended, almost like movements in classical music. The heavily effected fuzz of the guitars helps create the smoky atmosphere that billows over the the rapid blasts that are common in most black metal, it's the layers applied over it where their sound lies. The sample heavy "The Singularity" has more of a Blut Aus Nord feel to it, yet Spektr maintains a firm sense of the individual landscape they are painting here often reminding me of Eraser Head in feel more than conjuring comparisons to other black metal bands.their is a very pulpy cinematic feel through out like an old black and white Ed Wood film.

The opening soundscape as well as the interlude entitled solitude might as well just have been tagged onto the adjacent song as they don't serve enough suppose as stand alone tracks and aren't song in and of themselves, so solitude is basically the beginning of "Antimatter" and the same could be said for "Solve et Coagula" a title I can appreciate but it's really just an intro. "Antimatter" creeps to life after the industrial robot begin to stir. It gets into the dark lounge feel like Fantomas wanders around in though bookend with dedicate black metal. The slink of the rubbery bass lets this one slither against the wall of static , making the sonic nature of what they do just as important as being metal, which is this albums strength.

The title track closes the album, with an abrasive first minute that brings its picture into focus around the horror like sound bites closing in on the song. The song is over ten minutes and I feel the first tow and a half of those could have been compressed and still have enough of a build , the chords that do come in a strong enough that they could have rang the song in on their own power. The drone gives way into some blasty mcnasty which at this point seem to be an easy way out as they have already proven themselves capable of thinking way outside the box and when the blast fade they do just that with a murky breakdown . The second half of the song carries a thick post apocalyptic fog that drifts into a coastal town of an H.P Locecraft story, with tentacles below the surface, before it launches into more break neck mcnasty, and finding the grooves somewhere in between.

I'll give this album an 8.5 Becuase while it excels at creating a mood it sometimes fills the bag with air rather than chips in the process, though much credit is deserved at getting me to return to an instrumental album, the thin sound of some of the programmed drums is balanced out by the creative places they take this. I think they will have some staying power in my iPod for rainy days when I want some even more atmospheric than Blut Aus Nord with a bit of a vintage science fiction feel.

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