Exposé Online banner

Spectrum Orchestrum — Suburbs
((Not on label) (no catalog #), 2014, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-03-24

Suburbs Cover art

Spectrum Orchestrum is a five-piece organic jazz-rock ensemble from Lille, France, that began their journey in 2007, Suburbs being their first full length CD release – although four previous CDR releases of improvisations exist in micro-quantities of 50 or 100 copies each. Their sound on these five cuts ebbs and flows naturally like pure improvisation, but I suspect these are actually composed pieces with a lot of open space for the players to stretch out. The opening soundscape “Prelude: La Profundeur du Chant” which flows directly into the ten-minute title track has a strong feel of early-70s Crimson improv meets Sun Ra, though presented in its own context with melodic alto sax at the fore, and studious guitar craft like backing from the guitar and keys until a few minutes in when the rhythm section joins in on the fun for a full-on jazz-rock crescendo, then backs off again and repeats the process, each time getting heavier and more powerful. “Lonely Woman” exhibits another side of the group’s sound, starting out in a more purely improvisational mode not unlike the chaos unleashed by Shub Niggurath on their early work, through softer fields of string scratching over wandering piano threads, returning to the heavier sounds, cycling over and through, with the sax taking the lead melodic voice. Some of the softer electric piano driven parts of this may certainly remind the listener of some of Magma’s arrangements circa Köhntarkösz. The side-long epic “Mantra (Discodzilla Inclus)” drives their sound even further in zeuhlish directions, with a blast of John Zorn meets Funkadelic thrown in for good measure. Again, this is a piece that moves in multiple cycles of high suspense intensity followed by periods of gentle release. Throughout, every player gets many chances to shine brightly, and together as a whole the group bristles with creative genius. A short three-minute “Postlude” closes the album, the only track where wordless voices are used to augment the sax. For powerful instrumental music that crosses the poles of darkness and light, it doesn’t get much better than this.


Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Spectrum Orchestrum

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ashes Are Nutritious - Frustration + – This oddly named quartet hails from South Amboy, NJ, and brings a number of strong elements to their debut studio release Frustration +, including a powerful vocal presence in frontman Billy Clifton....  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues