Cold Specks - I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
- By Jack Preston -
- Apr 27, 2012
When in the sort of mood that requires you to sit in a darkened room with your own thoughts there’s very few music genres that are made to fit, in fact at times it seems impossible to find a suitable substitute for silence on your iPod.
Slow, subtle, reflective, heartfelt. These are all the sorts of qualities that one looks for when attempting to find a musical accompaniment for quiet reflection, all of which are constants on Cold Specks’ debut release. Filed under the rather uninviting, although wholly appropriate, label of ‘doom soul’, Canadian singer Al Spx’s first record is a compelling listen – if the mood permits.
Drawing influences from southern gospel and artists such as Tom Waits, Spx’s shtick may not hold the broadest appeal but nevertheless presents the listener with a host of rewarding material. Opening tracks ‘The Mark’ and ‘Heavy Hands’ sedate the listener into a musical lull, with an acoustic coldness that threatens to bring down the listener’s pulse to a dangerously low rate.
This understated start proves to be a welcome foil, with the halfway point track on the record, ‘Hector’, bringing with it a relative change of pace. The falling riff and hi hat conjure up a touch of Radiohead - think a more sober ‘Jigsaw falling into place’, offering one of the few toe-tapping moments on the record.
The latter songs see the album play out with a defiance you may not have thought initially possible, with Spx forcefully declaring “I am, I am, I am a god damn believer” on ‘Blank Maps’. The lyrical simplicity of the album could well be argued in either direction, with accusations of talent being undermined by the fleeting presence of songs strong enough to showcase it.
While this is claim which can be substantiated to a certain degree, it’s not of great detriment to the overall feel of the album. With emotive gospel cries such as finisher ‘Lay me down’, it's music which can still hold a lot of weight in the absence of strong lyrics.
As Keith Richards once said, songs are floating about and you need a radar to be able to pick them up. There’s a bleak, bluesy beauty of a record floating about the room as you press play on ‘I Predict a Graceful Expulsion’, it’s down to the listener to find it.