Album Review: SPC ECO

you tell me
xd records (cd) | bandcamp (download)

This week, deciding which new album to review has given rise to something of a quandry. First choice was Sigur Rós' Inni live LP (which is wonderful, beautiful, transporting but inconveniently all in Icelandic - which makes it somewhat tricky to write about the songs). That was shelved as I next came across In The Pit Of The Stomach from We Were Promised Jetpacks. This offering, which coincidentally was recorded at Sigur Rós' Sundlaugin Studios, is the band's second longplayer and one that I have many great things to say about. However, that may have to wait for the weekend as at the 11th hour one further candidate won out.

For those unaware (shame on you!) SPC ECO are the primary focus nowadays of former Curve noise-merchant Dean Garcia. That's not to say the only focus however - Garcia can also be found behind the desks and up front for a host of ventures including The Chronologic, Inkraktare, The Secret Meeting, KGC and many others. By contrast, The other half of Curve, Toni Halliday has seemingly only recently reappeared with her Chatelaine project.

SPC ECO (pronounced 'space echo' incidentally) are composed of Garcia, daughter Rose Berlin on vocals, guitar meister Joey Levenson alongside Perry Pelonero, Preston Maddox and Russell Keeble. Soundwise; the obvious inheritors of the gazey/industrial style of Curve, but with a distintcly modern slant. Comparisons with other bands fail when the work of Garcia (along with My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields) could easily be said to be where other artists look for inspiration for an entire genre/scene of music - Shoegaze/Noise-Rock/Post-Rock/Chillwave/Nu-Gaze/Glo-Fi, call it what you will.

You Tell Me is the second full LP from SPC ECO and features four tracks from previous EPs (Gone, Big Fat World, All My Love and Silo Too High) plus eight new cuts and is topped off with a remix. From the outset a rich landscape of sound flows out to the listener in which it feels so easy to lay back and get lost in. It's all about the full on, spaced out texture, Rose's vocals (frequently low in the mix) blending in perfectly. Not completely amorphous however, there's some truly wicked hooks in there, for example in Big Fat World - a track with blissful progression leading into a chorus to die for.

Tracks like All My Love and Silo Too High maintain the great mood of the album, with others such as See You On The Other Side stepping things up a touch into a darker, heavier realm. But there's some surprises on here, even for me, and I'm a huge SPC ECO fan. Let It Out appears to be a vocal reworking of Curve's Something Familiar from 1998's Come Clean .. Wasn't expecting that at all. Fall A Million Ways also made me do a double-take as what starts off as a chilled piano number morphs into a moody excursion into bluesy trip-hop (even has a solo!). And it really works. SPC ECO move off in another, new direction again with penultimate track You Tell Me - Buzz Mix which by halfway through is most definitely threatening to send the LP into a dubstep-injected climax, a vibe that continues though into the 'bookending' closer, a remix of opener Gone.

All in all, I've found You Tell Me to be everything I might have wished for in a new SPC ECO album and a damn sight more ... I may however be somewhat biased of course, Curve and the 'family tree' of related bands and projects are up there in my top four all-time favourite bands (frequent readers can send answers on a postcard to guess the other three - you might get two - the third I'm saving for a rainy day...). But who in their right mind would really want unbiased/100% objective reviews of music anyhow? .. Well aside from Pete Townshend of course *cough*.

SPC ECO play Camden's Barfly venue next Friday (18th November), reduced price tickets are available via the band on Facebook. I'll certainly be there - so expect a follow up review of the night shortly afterwards. I suspect it may be a positive one... :)