V/A – Superspectrum

John Keel was a UFOlogist and writer, perhaps mostly known these days for his book The Mothman Prophecies. His body of work forms the conceptual base for recently established Eighth Tower Records, named after one of Keel’s books. Superspectrum is an experimental music compilation of dark ambient and ritual flavor, thematically revolving around a theoretical “spectrum of energies that are known to exist but that cannot be accurately measured with present-day instruments.” According to Keel, the Superspectrum is the ultimate cause behind all sorts of paranormal and occult phenomena, and according to us it is at least a decent idea to build a compilation album around.

Eighth tower has managed to gather quite a little stable of participants for this comp, at least two of which have recently been discussed on Archaic Triad in connection with releases on Cryo Chamber. Alphaxone delivers a track of rather relaxing, ethereal ambient conjuring images of floating clouds viewed from serene, dilapidated, massive structures. Xerxes the Dark lives up to his name, as bass, darkness, shadows and unidentifiable samples create a massive cave for the sparse synth melodies to aimlessly drift through. Very effective stuff.

Sonologyst, which I believe is the label owner’s own project, takes dark ambient back to its roots. “Ceremony” sounds straight up like early Lustmord, with a few slightly harsher elements thrown in. It is a nice change from my usual dark ambient consumption – even if one can never really get enough of the epic, dramatic, world-building type of dark ambient, there are other ways to do things. Finnish vÄäristymä does ritual, loop based stuff with coldly despondent synth wails and glitch noises. At first it is confusing, once you get into it it’s great. Cordis Cincti Serpente with “Canis Tindalos” goes for minimalism, with almost non-musical drones combining with bells and strange chirping sounds. Also very cool.

One track we had been looking forward to was Gopota, whose Music for Primitive tape was reviewed on Archaic Triad a while back. With “Attitude”, perhaps a reference to the groups own peculiar thematic blend of Italian street crime and psychological angst, they are engaging in somewhat more laid-back work than what we got last time. Ambient synth drones mix with hissing noises, those digital glitches that seem to be on purpose this time around, and a plethora of diffuse samples. The result is something melodic, yet strangely disturbing. It will be very interesting to see where Gopota go next.

There are of course other compositions on this digital album, which is 88 minutes long (and hence can never see a CD release, even in theory – angry emoji). All are competently performed by great artists, and there is actually not a single really bad track on here. If the 7 Euro price tag seems steep to you, think of it like this: you’ve probably payed more for less at other times. Plus you get an essay about John Keel, in case you want to delve deeper into the speculative foundations of Eighth Tower and Superspectrum.

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