Although they do collaborate with other artists on their albums, SPC ECO — pronounced space echo, dig? — are essentially a father-daughter duo consisting of singer/lyricist Rose Berlin and multi-instrumentalist/producer Dean Garcia, the latter of which spent quite a bit of time in the limelight back in the ’90’s as one half of the critically-acclaimed electro duo Curve.
This time around, Rose and Dean worked with Jarek Leskiewicz, who contributed to most of the songs and co-wrote six of them. While Rose and Dean worked at Dean’s studio The ELaB in the UK, Jarek made his parts in his home studio in Opole, Poland, sending things back and forth with Rose and Dean until they had finished songs. One of their collaborations was the first track that was completed for the release, a spacey delight called “Fallen Stars,” which also happens to open the album. Like several of the songs on the 15 track record, it features crushing, raw guitars that hover over droning but shiny synth, a smooth bass guitar part, and Rose’s ethereal voice, among other sounds (of which there are many).
One of the album’s strongest tracks is the highly addictive, punchy single “Delusional Waste,” which calls to mind early Garbage and Republica. While Rose’s vocals are often buried — sometimes too buried — in the mix of the duo’s post shoegaze post dream pop tunes, the vocals are loud and clear on “Delusional Waste,” which is wonderful because Rose has a beautiful voice that deserves to be heard. In this case, she’s calling someone “a fucking waste of space,” so she isn’t exactly trying to sound beautiful, but she does nevertheless. With a gorgeous voice like hers, it just can’t be helped. She could be reciting a black mass and it would still sound heavenly and precious. That said, “Delusional Waste” calls for some brash attitude and Rose does give off just the right amount of don’t-fuck-with-me vibe. She just happens to sound celestial while she does so.
If you’re a fan of the undead then you’re sure to like the goth rock-tinged “Zombie,” which sounds like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and The Smashing Pumpkins. But dreamier. It’s quite trippy, in fact, and it’s hypnotic tunes like this that make me a little less bothered that Wiki simply refers to this duo as shoegaze.
Down-tempo and ballad junkies will not be able to get enough of “The Whole Day Long.” Easily one of the best songs on the album, it’s the perfect companion for your depression. Angsty, but ultimately rather mellow. It has a seductive bass guitar line that gets inside of you and doesn’t let go, meanwhile electro-beats slosh along, sounding a bit like they’re getting stuck in the mud as they go. A bit dirty, to be sure. So, consider yourself warned: these beats will punch you in the gut in the dark.
“Make Me Stay” is sure to hit a home run with pop-minded music lovers. One of the most-uptempo and immediately infectious tracks on the album, it features industrial-flavored beats, sharp bursts of guitar, chugging bass and what are quite possibly Rose’s most playful vocals on the album. There’s even a moment where it almost sounds a bit dubstep, though it never quite goes there and that’s probably a good thing because you wouldn’t want to get sick of this album three months from now.
“Don’t make me cry anymore,” Rose sings, her voice perfectly angelic, during the spacey number “Hold On Me,” which allows Dean to show off his bass guitar playing and boy does he impress. The song does have some guitars, but they’re considerably less crunchy than they are on most tracks on the album and, more importantly, they’re lower in the mix, so you can also hear Rose’s sweet vocals better.
Of course, some of the tracks where you can’t always hear Rose so much are enjoyable, too. “Sirens and Satellites” in particular is a mesmerizing mix of Depeche Mode-flavored beats, snappy percussion and swirly, droning bass that goes straight for the jugular and hits it.
The album closes with a haunting, minimalist track called “Found,” which finds Rose singing softly — almost whispering — accompanied by very little music. Just little click-like sounds. Normally, I would say these songs have at least six tracks running at all times — and some probably have as many as 32 — but I doubt there are more than 3 at play here and it’s quite stunning.
All in all, what we have here is a veritable genre-bender. A truly eclectic magnum opus. This one is as likely to please fans of shoegaze, as it is to please fans of industrial, as it is to please fans of electro-pop, or even fans of psychedelic music. Rose and Dean and their co-conspirators do all of these things quite masterfully, often within the span of a single song, and it’s a sonic joyride you don’t want to miss.