Thursday, December 3, 2015


The world can be a very bizarre, very loud place at times. The insane volume of the current year’s unimpressive conclusions mixed with the annoying murmur of lives in motion, cars starting in the morning, empty laughter on lunch breaks, and meaningless chatter that booms within the walls of happy hour every day. December comes strutting in like a wounded woman, unknowingly beautiful feeling painfully invisible, but if you attempt to strike up a conversation, you will feel the sting of her disgust with reality. Art should never refer to itself as art. Those who observe it and flirt with it should decide that. The state of modern music is perplexing in many ways. Sonic introductions now reduced to a Tinder-like existence, swipe left, reject, swipe right, and listen. The average person now has an attention span of around seven seconds or so. This concept and fact-finding method has been applied to cinema, music, and newsfeeds that we all partake in. Flash and grab, strike a nerve, rattle an emotion but you better make it fast. I guess people are pretty scared to jump into the pool, the unpredictable chill of immersion. But then again it is December, and it does get pretty fucking cold.

Rearranged moods and obsessive grooves are the name of the game in two current releases that I’ve been letting myself get lost in recently. Saint Marie Records is a relatively new label with its own distinctive sound, there’s a certain crispness and mysterious hum within all of its releases. Whether it’s post-punk, shoegaze, dark-dream, or indie pop, each release is unique because it’s very obvious that artistic vision and creative prowess come before the need to launch “the next big thing”. The sounds of unhinged lust, jilted lovers, jealous rage, uncooperative desire, and mind-altered contemplation come to life in the latest albums by SPC ECO and Mark Van Hoen.

SPC ECODark Matter (Saint Marie Records)

A dream within a dream soundscape that hesitantly advances into a lurid emotional conundrum, the quavering bang croons and rocks loosely with its slow brooding beats, techno drenched sex vocals, and delicate dark synth layers. With the vampire burn of Portishead and experimental shades of Chelsea Wolfe, this entity forges a sound that is decidedly current and seductively hostile in its use of slow, gyrating techno pop and plasma soaked bass line allure. The opening track “Creep In The Shadows” exemplifies the atmosphere of Dark Matter. Disappear into the night, dissolve in the bedroom, and daydream in sepia.

The hypnotic intercourse takes a smooth drop into gloomy hip-hop on “Down Low” which lays down a racy groove with sweet sparks of breathy distortion. Disfigured dream-pop luster creeps its way into the ultra-catchy “I Wont Be Heard” and coy tunefulness of “Playing Games”. “Under My Skin” produces a dreamy doomsday lullaby with a beautifully ravaged melody that floats and dissipates into SPC ECO’s Technicolor void. The entrancing vocals of Rose Berlin and composition skills of Curve’s Dean Garcia create a listening experience that is euphoric and uneasy with a deliberate and sculpted pacing that allows this record to breathe and sway, distraction free.

MARK VAN HOENNightvision (Saint Marie Records)

Night and day warp into a blinding stream of buzzing opiate resonance on the latest release by underground ambient legend Mark Van Hoen. Surreal and winding in its spectrum of melody, with characteristics not unlike the ambient works of Steve Roach and Tangerine Dream, Hoen claims his own territory in the hazy world of symphonic drone. Beginning with his groundbreaking work in Locust and Scala, his non-linear evolution continues, bold and uncompromising in artistic vision.

Eerie sequenced harmonies of psychedelic bleakness gently invade the atmosphere with bewildering dynamics and vigorous lead melodies. Nightvision encompasses a series of techno orchestral movements that bleed together into an otherworldly listening experience. A psychological mind game that mourns and celebrates the horror of everyday life using a lush array of synthesizers and haunting loops as the narrator. Love and hate, beauty and terror, in the end we all face the inevitable.

--Kevin McGovern--