Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Spettro Family - Candelora (Brave Mysteries, 2011)

Remember Matthew Akers, whose The Elders of New Detroit  I’ve reviewed a while back? Well, there’s a new “carpentercore” player in town, and his name is Spettro Family (real name: Stefano Iannone). But in addition to wonderfully polished and balanced 80’s-styled synth vignettes, Spettro adds some of the occultism and outer limits mystery which appears to be the staple of Brave Mysteries label.
The tape begins with an anthemic display of power (or maybe the powers of imitation?) “Post Partum”: a dynamic, yet somewhat nostalgic tune that begins in almost ambient territories, only to change to a thumping main theme which sets the mood for the rest of the tape. Spettro Family does not go for the simple carpenterisms though: where one might expect a cassette full of ultra-manly vintage soundtrack snippets, SF cuts through a wide variety of moods and styles. “1978 La Fuga” is a good example of this: it is a quick, even abrupt, transition from the dynamics of the first track to a melancholic drumless suite based on minimalistic melody  reminiscing the childhood years (as the title might suggest, even though I have a feeling Stefano wasn’t even around in 1978, but I might be wrong, considering the influx of “old-timers” playing 70’s and 80’s influenced music who actually were alive during that time, such as Panabrite or Stellar Om Source). Most of the track are short – they’re more like drafts, variations of basic schemes laid by John Carpenter soundtracks. Like the relatively calm, yet never touching the “relaxing” territory “Orrore the Great”, where subtle touches of sequencer set the pace to a quiet beat.
The flipside is set in a similar “80’s cop movie” feel, with lush synthesizer drops on throbbing bass lines, but with a few notable exceptions – like the almost ritualistic “Medjugorje” which contains samples of Lord’s Prayer recited in an Eastern or Southern European (Slavic) language – being Polish I can understand most of the words, at first I actually though it was Polish! This is one of the high points of the cassette – while most “carpentercore”-rs just try to replicate the action movie vibe, Spettro Family went into the more mysterious area, with sinister drones in the background more similar to the work of Burial Hex than Matthew Akers.
Spettro Family covers interesting grounds: on one side there’s lots of pagan symbolism and (probably) and influence of neofolk acts of the 1980’s, with Spettro referring to the cassette title being taken from Celtic and ancient Roman festivals; on the other there’s a fascination with polished 1980’s synth soundtracks and atmospheric electronics. Congratulations not only to Spettro Family, who managed to fuse two seemingly contradicting areas (the outsiderism of ritualists vs. the relative “mainstream-ness” of John Carpenter movies), but also to the Brave Mysteries label, who have an extraordinary ear for sonic curios and obscurities, being both “brave” in their choices and “mysterious” in their sound and roster.

The tape is available at the Brave Mysteries Shop.

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