Dead Voices On Air: From Afar All Stars Spark And Glee
Lens Records

Mark Spybey is nothing if not prolific: his latest Dead Voices on Air full-length is his fourteenth to date and was the second issued during 2010. Even so, From Afar All Stars Spark And Glee is a high-quality outing indeed that suggests that the project is not suffering in any way from a lack of ideas or inspiration. Spybey, a one-time Zoviet-France member who left the group in 1992 to pursue his own vision (and who is currently working with fellow Zoviet-France alumnus Robin Storey as Reformed Faction), is no doubt an old hand at this sort of thing by now, but the hour-long collection of music on the new release shows no signs of rust or corrosion. It's a heavily atmospheric recording where strings, pianos, field recordings, and disembodied voices thread themselves through blurry ambient-industrial-drone landscapes.

Spybey's got a number of stylistic tricks up his sleeve, and many are brought forth during the album, among them trippy sound collages, ambient settings, and even a vocal piece. “Something Maybe” enters the picture in a huge swirling mass of blurry tones and vocal emissions before a large choir takes over with a forceful delivery that matches the opening episode in intensity. That vocal part is in turn supplanted by a brooding, kosmische musik-styled section, which again pulsates with urgency. “This Silence Where the Murmours Lie” serves up nine gaseous minutes of symphonic ambient material, while “The Far Fields Melt My Heart” is a gloomy and war-torn soundscaping collage of the kind that would appeal to fans of Coil and the like. Phantasmagoric in nature, “Locusts Drummed the Darkening Air” relocates the Dead Voices on Air sound to the Far East where Chinese percussion strikes intertwine with distorted voices and glimmering streams. There are restrained moments, too: “Till the Dusk” is as peaceful as one would expect it would be, and “The Air is a Mill of Hosts” takes the recording out with restrained industrial-ambient soundscaping.

But one track stands out most of all: the title track, which includes a stunning vocal performance by American-Serbian singer Ivana Salipur. Intended as an homage to the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic (1898-1993), the track is a deeply affecting lamentation that wisely cedes the spotlight to Salipur, who takes full advantage of the opportunity and wrings the greatest possible emotion from it. Though only four minutes in length, the vocal drone setting is the one you'll remember long after the album's been filed away.

January 2011