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Isolation Noir – SPC ECO’s “Anomalies”

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Take your mallrat pop and feed it through a grown-up’s modulator programmed for the darkest shiniest heart of the sun there’s ever been. Take Portishead and plonk them down inside the most lugubriously shimmering nightclub on the surface of Neptune where the only things the DJs play are soundtracks to isolation noir, dank grooves glancing off the aqueous walls. Snatch Martina Topley-Bird out of Tricky’s desperate grasp and with a subtle sureness redesign her singing style until it resembles a sultry and burning-cold vision of Eartha Kitt’s suggestive purr as interpreted by Jane Birkin’s whispering ghost. When you’ve done all that, and added in a disturbing gossamer of sound produced exclusively to envelop while rendering all that is darkness as a lovely and desired thing, you’re somewhere close to Anomalies, SPC ECO’s seventh album depending how you count.

While those recalling the careeningly rich, semi-industrial textures of upstart 90’s juggernauts Curve, when they see Dean Garcia as being one half responsible here, might nod their heads and stroke their beards and say ‘Ah yes, you can definitely hear the DNA of Curve in this,’ they’d be half right, half wrong to the point of stupid and 100% lazy. What they’d be getting correct is simply the taste and talent for the enigmatic that Garcia seems to possess in quantities not altogether mortal (was Curve some kind of Lush driving nine-inch nails into their heart or were they more a many-handed serpentine robot that had mastered a knack for shining humanoid beauty?). Where they’d be glaringly incorrect is in every other respect. Not only is the sound he makes with daughter Rose Berlin – whom we’re debating calling a ‘gritty Nubian/urban chanteuse’ and hoping she won’t mind – that of a slinkier beast, it’s also one not at all intent on grabbing one’s attention via a sonic assault a la a shoegaze Niagara Falls but rather through the shape-shifting trance dynamic of nuance and accrual, knowing full well that the subliminal out-seduces – and is actually bolder than – the boldest onslaught, a fact the intuition knows is less counter-intuitive than it might appear. The music SPC ECO makes, to even greater effect on Anomalies than on last year’s Dark Matter, gets under your skin, pulsing with a robust subtlety that’s already written in your blood as it flows between your ears, moody and smoking and suggestive and visceral in its systolic insistence.

The floating hypnotic punch and lure of “Out of My System” that pulls you in at the outset like some audio Dance of the Seven Veils, “Incomplete”‘s seductive melancholy, its deep thumping heartbeat of gauzy sadness, the bubbling undercurrent that sets up the tone of anxious yearning in “Silent Maybe,” “All the Time”‘s mulchy squelch-box rhythms giving way to a restless haze-reverberant soundscape that suggests quite possibly the sexiest paranoiac edge ever, there’s barely a moment on this record that doesn’t trigger your darkest intrigue.

Where claustrophobia meets infinity, trip-hop meets eternity, where the immutable beauty of life meets the existential terror of loneliness that lurks in every one of our hearts, this is the music of those improbable fulcrums. We may live in fucked-up times but musically, as Anomalies¬†and many other records suggest, it seems to us here at SEM that we’re living in a gilded age.

[Want to hear the record? See SEM’s exclusive stream here AND enjoy a track-by-track breakdown from Dean and Rose themselves] [pre-order Anomalies from Saint Marie Records here]