Quicksails
Mayville Dream
Editions Mego / Spectrum Spools

Like a heavily layered Container LP or a more structured Bee Mask, Ben Billington, operating here as Quicksails, at once fits neatly into the Spectrum Spools catalog and expands it in unexpected ways.  Past Quicksails releases were on Under the Spire and NNA Tapes, but “Mayville Dream” is bolder and positively kaleidoscopic, with streams of color and bursts of energy creating a lively and inviting album.  It’s structured and always rooted in intoxicating rhythmic formats with every speck of sound - pulsing pianos, jittery synths, crashing cymbals, and glitchy electronics - working towards inexorable momentum.  It’s no surprise that Billington comes from a background in percussion, but there’s so much more happening on “Mayville Dream” than that.  It’s telling that on the rare occurrence he slows things to a crawl, such as on “Only Escape,” the album remains just as captivating.  - Ryan Potts, Experimedia

Container
LP

Spectrum Spools

The second full-length self-titled album by Ren Schofield’s Container project, “Container” is spare, minimal, Noise-influenced outsider Techno with a rigid focus. The opening track establishes the tonal palette of the record, with bit-crushed rhythms set against a deceptively simple drum pattern. A careening, looped oscillation appears midway through the track and steadily gains momentum and position in the mix. Schofield is adept at making these jarring juxtapositions feel organic and coherent. Standout track “Acclimator” teems with insectoid chatter and whips up fascinating polyrhythms by way of its creative and judicious use of delay. Some may write off Noise-Techno as trendy and topical (and perhaps much of it is), but Schofield’s efforts are well worth a listen. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia 

Bee Mask
When We Were Eating Unripe Pears

Spectrum Spools

Chris Madak’s Bee Mask project returns for another full-length outing on eMego sub-label Spectrum Spools, following a well-received slight detour of a 12” on the Room 40 label in which he explored slightly less abstract climes and focused more on rhythm and repetition, a tendency that also rears its head on this record. “When We Were Eating Unripe Pears” is perhaps best understood as the “proper” follow-up to his initial offering for Spectrum Spools, “Canzoni dal Laboratorio del Silenzio Cosmico,” and offers the listener rich, alien soundscapes that are rife with detail. Burbling, chiming, seething, rising, panning - Madak’s palette is diverse yet coherent, with disparate tonal arrays held together by a deft sense of pacing and recurrent motifs, rhythmic or otherwise, that show up throughout the album. “The Story of Keys and Locks” blooms suddenly into a sequencer-driven reverie that recalls co-conspirator John Elliott’s work as Outer Space, all claustrophobic arpeggiations and high-end detritus. Obversely, “Fried Niteshade” and “Rain in Coffee” exist in more open spaces, with writhing, bubbling tones pinging and humming softly as if rotating in concentric orbits. Ultimately, “When We Were Eating Unripe Pears” is right at home in the Spectrum Spools stable, and if you’re a fan of the imprint’s output this should be a no-brainer. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia 

FORMA
Off/On

Spectrum Spools

FORMA’s OFF/ON finds the Brooklyn trio exploring the propulsion of motorik and sequenced hypnosis as trancefeed in some cosmic mystery cult. Each track moves forward as magnetic bullet train in near future megapolis. Arpeggios and intricate sequences flutter among celestial synths. Recorded using an impressive collection of vintage synthesizers and drum machines, OFF/ON is a magnetic journey through realms buzzing with electric potential. The end result is an album of hypnotic, swirling texture that invites the listener to trance states filtered through the hue of soundtrack to a lost 1980s film. - Curt Brown, Experimedia 

Bee Mask
Vaporware/Scanops

Room40

Following on the heels of two superlative LPs on the Spectrum Spools label is this new missive from Chris Madak’s Bee Mask project. Devoted as ever to rigorous experimentation, the sounds here diverge a bit from what I typically associate with the project, favoring crystal clear arpeggiations, subtle vocal samples and intricate sequencing rather than the hazy, clangorous machinations that dominate much of his previous output. Side A’s “Vaporware” is aptly named, with razor-sharp sequencing and arpeggiations bookending a beautiful pad motif. “Scanops” retains the accessibility and clarity of the A-side. Burbling synths and chopped/looped vocals ride a slow-sifting tide of ethereal drones which are slowly removed, revealing a lattice of oddly affecting, wordless vocals. A very nice 12”. Can’t wait for the next full length. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia 

Outer Space
Akashic Record (Events 1986-1990)

Spectrum Spools

So much music exploded in the 20th Century that it’s still hard to keep things straight. Most trends simply didn’t have long enough to culturally gestate, hence the cyclical reassessment of these once forgotten genres. The name John Elliot should be familiar to those who are overjoyed at the prospect of synthesizer music stretching its legs out again. Performing as Outer Space and in the group Emeralds, Elliot has continuously showered us with blankets of textured ambiance and crystal clear, minimal arpeggios. Akashic Record (Events: 19986-1990), out on his own Spectrum Spools imprint, is a further refinement of his expansive, pulsating synthesizer music. The album is best enjoyed as an adventurous electronic soundtrack — the backdrop to someone’s specific emotional situations. These scenarios are only teased in the song titles (“11:38”, “October 27th, 1989 - Bay Village, Ohio”) but their presence is enough to suggest a broader narrative beyond the persistent bass sequences and shimmering electronics. They hint at the flesh and blood behind the often stark tones here, and reveal how nuanced and beautiful even the most synthetic music can be when a heart is beating somewhere under the surface. - Keith Rankin, Experimedia

Plvs Vltra
Parthenon

Spectrum Spools

You’re probably already familiar with the voice at the center of PLVS VLTRA, as it belongs to Toka Yasuda of Enon and Blonde Redhead fame. Pantheon is her debut solo album for Spectrum Spools, and she injects the label with a serious dose of eclectic electronic pop. Yasuda’s voice, being high pitched and japanese, has unavoidable ties to Jpop artists like Shiina Ringo or the more electronic Takako Minekawa, which works to the record’s advantage when placed next to its adventurous instrumentation. Simply put, the sound palette here is all over the place. I like when it gets a bit weird and dancey, especially on “Sweet Tooth”, “Parthenon”, and “Like Space”, which are adorned with interesting shuffling grooves, found-sound samples, and bubbling synth-tom sounds. Every nook and cranny of Pantheon is filled with some interesting element, making it a pretty dense listen (especially for a “pop” album). But that’s the charm, and repeated listens reveal a smart compositional sensibility hiding in the Yasuda’s tangled jungle of sound. - Keith Rankin

Eric Lanham
The Sincere Interruption

Spectrum Spools 

Excellent new full-length solo album of live improvised electronics by Kentucky-based sound artist Eric Lanham. Lanham is, of course, best known for his work as 1/2 of the Caboladies duo, one of the more forward thinking and consistently intriguing “synth” projects working today (and two of the most solid guys I know, to boot). His work on “The Sincere Interruption” is much more minimal, even academic sounding, than his other releases (besides perhaps the limited output he released under his Palmetto Moon Electronic Group moniker a couple years back). The 90s Mille Plateaux catalog serves as a good point of reference for this highly detailed, focused music. After a brief opener, “21:00” unfurls itself, a slow moving piece full of pinging, rolling notes and some very creative mixing (lots of activity at different volume levels as well as disorienting panning effects). This relatively minimal, tranquil track paves the way for the titular track, a blistering miasma of truncated and abused samples, cut-ups and all manner of digital whizzes and pops. It’s a really engaging and dynamic listen, surely enhanced by the always stellar production spec the characterizes all eMego-related releases. For the remainder of the album, Lanham divides his time between tracks that operate in a similar manner to the title cut and more meditative, minimal tracks containing slowly modulating digital waveforms. Without question, one of the best records on the Spectrum Spools imprint (decked out with simply fantastic cover art by the inimitable Robert Beatty), this should be a no-brainer purchase. - Alex Cobb

Motion Sickness of Time Travel
Self Titled

(Spectrum Spools)

Shorn of the lo-fi methods and avant-pop techniques that have dominated much of Rachel Evans’ past output as Motion Sickness of Time Travel, this self-titled 2xLP expands and updates her signature sound. With four side-long tracks that each eclipse the 20 minute mark, Evans firmly places synthesizers at the forefront of her sound, spiraling alternatively between gleaming textures, syncopated melodies, and amorphous haze. Trapped between the clarity of consciousness and the surreality of a dream, “Motion Sickness of Time Travel” is primed for extended exposures and prolonged listens. A fitting and notable addition to the Spectrum Spools imprint. - Ryan Potts for Experimedia