Spoors in unlike any album you will hear anytime soon. The Science Group is compised of Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer on keyboards & sampler, Bob Drake on bass, guitar & organ, Chris Cutler on drums, and Thinking Plague guitarist Mike Johnson. To call the music on this CD a mix of RIO, jazz, and metal would make a certain amount of sense, yet it really doesn't sit in any of those camps. These musicians have put together a dark, sometimes bouncy, complex tapestry of songs that grip you by the throat and shake you till your brains fall out on the floor. The instrumental interplay and off kilter melodies are very addicting, and the utterly bizarre nature of the arrangements will have you hitting your replay button over and over.
Tickmayer wrote all the songs, and his herky-jerky melodies allow for his keyboard work, mainly piano and synths, to really shine. On the opening suite "Timelines" his dissonant notes fly over the acrobatic bass work of Drake, while Cutler flails away at his kit and Johnson lays down lethal shards of metallic guitar crunch. This band is the jazz equivalant of Anglagard, as they go from quiet, introspective passages to loud burst of electronic energy at the drop of a hat. Listen to the third section of "Timelines" called "Timeline 5", where manic electronic drums blur the aural plateau while Tickmayer and Johnson trade complex and weaving lines, then everyone quickly setttles in to a calm classical passage. Stunning. "New Incidents" is a five part piece that has a much more jazzy and ambient vibe, and the section titled "Dispersants" allows Cutler's nimble drum work and Johnson's violin-like guitar passages to really shine. Here the music is just as complex, yet perhaps not as bombastic as the previous suite. Check out the raucous, RIO sounds of "Bagatelle's", a dissonant piece that has all sorts of weird keyboard sounds going on, as well as tricky drum fills from Cutler, and slippery unison lines from Drake and Johnson.
"Old and New Paths" is dark progressive jazz at its best, and might be the highlight of the CD. Broken down into five parts and tracking at over 20 minutes. Part one, "Discrete Networks" is an ominous journey into dark passageways and cold tunnels, with creepy keyboards, distorted bass lines, and a haunting atmosphere. The tone changes on "Niska Banja", a quirky and intricate piece featuring unison synth & guitar lines, while the doomy march of "Tracate" slows things down a bit with dark keyboard textures and a plodding rhythm. "The Garden of Forking Paths" is wild free jazz, and the closing 8-minute "Urban Music" is a powerful mix of ambient space rock, haunting yet symphonic prog rock, and free jazz. The dark, tonal blasts that these four musicians throw at you here is something to hear.
While Spoors certainly won't be for everyone, especially those who thrive on pleasant melodies, this will no doubt please fans of extreme avant-garde instrumental music. A recommended release from a veritable super-group of players.
1) Timeline 6 (2:28)
2) Timeline 2 (3:01)
3) Timeline 5 (5:55)
4) Slopes and Blind Alleys (1:42)
5) Dispersants (4:57)
6) Dance of the Arguments (3:25)
7) Interrupted Thoughts (1:14)
8) The Reject (0:54)
9) Marching Off (5:38)
10) Slow Land (4:03)
Old and New Paths
11) Discrete Networks (4:20)
12) Niska Banja (2:15)
13) Tracate (4:36)
14) The Garden of Forking Paths (3:34)
15) Urban Music (8:20)