JUNE 28th 2013

Review by Anka

“Cypher” is the third full-length album of the French duo Spektr, released through Agonia Records. They have already made a name for themselves in this niche of ambient black metal. I had never heard an entire album from them, but with this, I have fully realized what was missing out on.

It is pretty challenging to describe ambient/experimental music, generally speaking.  First of all, a lot is happening, secondly, there are shifting feelings and moods that can’t easily be conveyed in a review, besides, it is a purely subjective experience for each listener. Just make sure you take the time and get in the frame of mind to listen to this album, and then you’ll enjoy the journey.

In their songs, Spektr experiment with a wide range of sounds, from industrial to black metal, with added effects and sampled sounds of all sorts. The soundscape is surrealistic and dark. Transcendental sounds are mood-setters, while the background distortion and static add mystery and uneasiness.  Instrumental parts alternate with these ambient moments and leave little space to breathe. The black metal layer is raw, wailing, and references to the old-school sonorities of the genre can be often heard. There is a bit of a jazzy feeling during certain moments, which comes as no surprise. Then of course, there would be a lot more to identify, but I have to wonder if dissecting the songs like that would be detrimental to the overall experience.

This is music meant to bewilder and challenge the mind. The song themes generally deal with alternate dimensions, the unknown, timelessness and infinity.  “The Singularity” track begins with the Twilight Zone spoken intro about the fifth dimension: “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity…” There seems to be a perpetual “Twilight Zone” inspiration throughout the album. Futuristic sounds, cryptic noise, these are alluring and mind-twirling at the same time. Every note takes you out of your comfortable zone and sends you out there to unexpected dimensions. There is suspense with every atmospheric passage and in every tempo breakdown. Towards the end of the album, you get strangely familiarized with most of this and it all becomes a rather passive experience.

The artistic vision is well anchored in every sound you hear on this album - It’s a state of mind, it might leave you in awe or it might not move you at all, depending on your disposition and openness but I trust only the passionate fans of the genre will check it out without hesitation.