Exposé Online banner

Spectrum Orchestrum — It's About Time
(Atypeek Music, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-10-08

It's About Time Cover art

French five-piece Spectrum Orchestrum started back in 2007, and has been pretty much flying under the radar all this time. We were introduced to them with their last release Suburbs (from 2014) but there are four releases prior to that, beginning with Improvisarium in 2008. This newest release, It’s About Time, subtitled Improvisarium V, contains only three tracks, from the one-minute opener to the 33-minute title track, and then a ten-minute closer. And as you might have accurately guessed, this is all improvised, although this is all too tight to not have been rehearsed a dozen times or more before the recording session. The band features guitar, bass, drums and percussion, Fender Rhodes and organ, and last but not least, alto sax; there are voices as well, though not credited. That one minute opener “Three to One” as a minute of complete chaos and madness, every player making as much noise as they can for the duration; think of that ending coda to “21st Century Schizoid Man” and you will be almost there. Going forward, we have the main course, “About Time” in three parts, although one might have no idea where the parts begin and end because everything just morphs along as it goes with an intense groove, beginning with a drum cadence and throbbing bass, then a gentle keyboard atmospheric later joined by a conversation between guitar and sax, slowly building in intensity and power, ratcheting up at a steady pace, reminiscent of some mid-70s Magma sans vocals, just a little more gnarly and freaky. Around the eleven-minute mark a series of whistles go off and the groove descends into a mysterious corner, less hard-driving, with mettalic gongs and bells and odd percussion that may remind the listener of Indonesian gamelan, but in truly free-improv style, piquing the imagination. As we approach the 18-minute mark, the bass and electric piano groove begins to return to its previous strength, slowly but ever so surely, driving forward like a march into the abyss, with sax joined by wordless voices, snarly guitars, and general chaos, beginning a slow fade at around the 31-minute point, with the voices becoming more promonent. The closer, with its reassuring title “Not the End,” is a slower evolving piece without a uniform driving groove, pushing out in all directions until it all winds down around the ten minute mark. Fans of 70s Magma, Combat Astronomy, and similarly inclined power-improv units should definitely add this to their list.

The release is available on the French digital label Atypeek Music, with physical releases on micro DIY-labels La Société du Spectral, Bang Bang, L'étourneur, Do It Youssef.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Spectrum Orchestrum

More info
http://spectrumorchestrum.bandcamp.com/album/its-about-time

Latest news

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Liberation. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dom F. Scab - Analogical Confessions – Dom F. Scab is Spain’s answer for Tangerine Dream fans who wish they still sounded like they did in 1985 or 1986, right when they transitioned from Johannes Schmoelling to Paul Haslinger. His...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues