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Spektrum - Enter the Spektrum

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Artist: Spektrum

Album: Enter the Spektrum

Label: Playhouse

Review date: Jun. 15, 2004

Perhaps it’s easier to bring back the dead. Lord knows, it’s easier to be cynical about those using pre-ordained building blocks to construct music of subcultural savvy: the right place, accurately out-of-time. It’s impossible to talk about Spektrum’s music without recourse to that brief flash of energy in the 1980s where everything was up for grabs, a kind of post-post-punk that continued/renewed post-punk’s non-/anti-rock optimism (disco, funk, dub, etc as abstract coordinates) while rejecting the body-denial issues and puritanical dogmatism of so much post-punk aesthetic enterprise. You could reel off a list of pertinent reference points - Rip Rig and Panic, Konk, Liquid Liquid, ESG - and there’s someone else’s over-determined review of the day: show ‘em the blueprint, and you don’t have to bother with building the damn thing.

Enter the Spektrum is a simple read at first: early 80s sound meets early 00s production techniques, the punk-funk re-dux, made shiny and clean. Until you notice the scriations that score the music, where the endless frisk of the rhythms catch you on the back foot, Gabriel Olegavich’s electronics scrawl each track with oblique stutterings and waves of discordance, scribbling all over the music’s contours. Time lapses and technology moves forward; let’s call it Pro-Tools funk, or Spektral disco.

The great presence at the centre of the music is the voice of Lola Olafisoye. She manages to straddle the sublimely sexed-up and the ridiculously affected, voice(s) and vices that score and scar the music. Olafisoye’s voice is often doubled, tripled, processed and dissected into voracious, strangely vampiric asides. At the end of “Freakbox”, her whispered “come on”’s - literal and metaphorical - continually topple over each other, craving and clamorous. The following “Country Licks”’s panoply of extra-verbal sounds, kisses and sighs and clacks, stop sharp just before a strange, strained prose tract is caught and warbled through a water-logged vocoder. If the rhythm carries the funk and the bass illuminates and pin-points the physicality of Spektrum’s music, Olafisoye simultaneously carries each song and continually threatens to destabilise it, mutating her voice, hiding it in-between the rhythm/bass interface one second, devouring the song whole in the next.

Enter the Spektrum is a record that maps well, that makes a certain topographical sense: it’s wholly appropriate. It’s also one step beyond most of the current acts re-working earlier texts/phenomena. It still feels as though there is something lacking: there's no necessity to the music. Enter the Spektrum sounds right, and has its instants of immanence... Maybe its pleasures are bogged down in context and circumstance (surely this record would stand out more if Spektrum’s music was truly out on its own), but there’s a great shoulder shrug, a sigh at the centre of these songs. Enter the Spektrum indeed, if you will, but don’t come expecting revelation.

By Jon Dale

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