I first came across the nightmarish raptures of Spektr in 2006 with Near Death Experience. That album was perhaps the most unsettling record in my music collection at the time, and served to worsen my already-horrific insomnia. Since then I’ve been captivated by every one of Spektr‘s disturbing soundtracks. Spektr rarely delivers “music”—in the strictest sense of the word—and isn’t exactly your typical black metal band, but with each release this French duo delves deeper into the psychotic void they first created on 2004’s Et Fugit Irreparabile Tempus. Spektr uses effective sampling (including the Twilight Zone theme in 2013’s Cypher), machine-like pulses and throbs, and Thorns/early Blut Aus Nord ambiance to build anxiety in their listeners. Along with these hopeless atmospheres, splashes of blackened tremolos and jazzy drum work bind every frayed edge together like Frankenstein’s monster. Though the band’s tunnel shrieking hasn’t made an appearance since 2007’s Mescalyne EP, Spektr needed need them on Cypher, and The Art to Disappear is no different.
Three years after Cypher, these Parisians follow a less-is-more philosophy in riffs, vocals, and album length. Spektr are not exactly known for their riffs—or song structures, for that matter—but The Art to Disappear is chock-full of them. These riffs are simple yet memorable, and the similarities of each create a running theme throughout the album. The Art to Disappear is more concise than previous outings, the flow cleverly crafted and the concept supported by every character. The Thorns-like elements, the old-school Blut Aus Nord trippiness, and the Gorgoroth and Reverence aggressiveness supply This with all the tension, anxiety, and mind-fuckery you could ever hope for.
Opener “Again” says it all in its mere thirty-second existence. “Through the Darkness of Future Past” sticks to the script of the opener while stacking layers upon layers of droning chugs and haunting samples on top of itself. The track’s build finally breaks and a driving, hardened riff cracks your eardrums while dissonant guitars separate skin from bone. “Kill Again” follows in an attempt to quiet the chaos, but the relentlessness of its perturbing qualities magnify the impacts of “Through the Darkness of Future Past” and the cerebral-liquefying “From the Terrifying to the Fascinating.” The Art to Disappear alternates from unsettling to calming all the way to the groovy, almost black ‘n’ roll riffs of the closer; creating a concise forty-minute concept from beginning to end. However, the moment that concept becomes clear, the album disappears as unexpectedly as it appeared. Thank goodness The Art to Disappear has repeat value.
Along with the “instrumental,” sample-happy “Kill Again,” “Soror Mystica” and “The Only One Here” are used almost exclusively for bridging a gap between the actual music on The Art to Disappear. “Soror Mystica” ferries the depressing synths and melodic Ulverisms of “That Day Will Definitely Come” over to the shores of the Gorgorothian bombardment of “Your Flesh Is a Relic.” And from there, “The Only One Here” transitions “Your Flesh Is a Relic” into the jazz-influenced introduction of the title track. These haunting interludes work wonderfully to break up the chaos on the album, supplying unique layers of uneasiness that push The Art to Disappear to its limits, but never allowing it to derail.
The Art to Disappear is perhaps the most straightforward and “accessible” record in Spektr‘s catalog. It’s concise, it flows, and it has a tight-knit theme—much like its predecessor—that steadily increases the listener’s anxiety. However, fluctuations in dynamics result in a mix of DR8 instrumental/effects tracks and hard-hitting DR4 ditties. Though it displeases me in a general sense, the brickwalled assault of “Your Flesh Is a Relic,” following the calmer “Soror Mystica,” seems fitting for an album like The Art to Disappear (as it did for last year’s Death Karma release). Regardless, Spektr has dropped another gem of industrial/ambient/nightmare “music” with an aggressiveness that crushes all their previous work and damn near matches wits with Cypher. While the album cover may imply something else entirely, don’t be fooled. This shit is as black as soot.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Agonia Records