It really seems like SPC ECO can do no wrong. Having reviewed them a couple of times on this site before, we always know we are going to enjoy whatever comes our way from the band. SPC ECO (vocalist Rose Berlin and multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia) have a unique way of re-inventing themselves with every release, all while keeping their trademark sounds intact.
Dark Matter is the band’s latest release on Saint Marie Records.
The best way to describe Dark Matter might be the album cover itself. The artwork features a simple black can, on white background. The can, reading “Dark Matter” is simple in design. No flare. No description. No clue. If you want to know what this album is, you have to be willing open it.
“Creep In the Shadows” opens the album with Berlins soft and reserved vocals. Her voice softly hovers over the melodic ambiance underbelly, reaching subtle techno frequencies as the song progresses. Rose is beckoning us to follow, and follow we do, right into the second track “Different Kind.” There is no sense of urgency on the track. Every syllable and syncopated drum beat is precise. While the vocal effects are classic SPC ECO, Berlin has the purity that could drive each piece in its absence.
The first major change in tempo is narrated in the opening measures of “Let It Be Always.” The distinct amateur radio transmission locks in to find Berlin in all her un-processed glory. “Playing Games” is perhaps the most familiar sound we have come to expect from SPC ECO. With its pulsating rhythm, the track shines midway through when Berlin lets her voice carry over through each stanza, especially when she asks “Wont You meet me in the middle of something beautiful?” Yes, we will. We will meet you right here in the middle of this exquisite track. Sounding more like a contemporary hip hop track is “Down Low.” While out of character, sounding more like a Drake track, it is best in the hands of Garcia.
Closing out the album are two of its best tracks. “The Whole World Shines” features Dean Garcia at his best. He nails this track with a soft monotone ambient beat during the verse before unleashing full on industrial shoegaze on the chorus.
Lines like “I’m done crying for moments I once adored” open the albums best work, “Under My Skin.” The track is not only the most beautiful song we have heard from SPC ECO, but the entire genre. The lush instrumental, and subtle keys is all kept on the right level allowing Berlin to maintain control. She whispers, she croons, she sings softly on a wavelength direct to your soul. The track is perfection and wraps up the best album we have heard yet from SPC ECO.
While Sirens and Satellites was shoegazed focused, and The Art of Pop was pop, Dark Matter is another shift for the band, exploring deep electronic elements and emotions both in songwriting and instrumentation. While we are always excited for the next pivot from the band, we hope they stay in this camp for a while. Dark Matter is a truly exceptional. Throw on the headphones. Dim the lights. Open that can of Dark Matter and make sure you get every last piece.
The album is yet another release from our good friends over at Saint Marie Records. The LP sounds exceptional on heavyweight black vinyl. The LP comes with lyric sleeve and download card. It is a limited pressing so make sure to pick up your copy from your local independent record store or directly from Saint Marie Records.