I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
added: 28 May 2012
// release date: 21 May 2012 // label: Mute
reviewer: Dan MacIntosh
London-based Canadian singer-songwriter Al Spx goes by the stage name Cold Specks, and I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is a most unexpected sounding recording from the Mute Records label. For a record company so closely associated with electronic dance music, this slew of gentle, acoustic-based songs is a beautiful surprise.
Spx sings soulfully, with just a hint of scratch in her voice. She’s not full on sandpaper scratchy, the way, say, Janis Joplin used to do it. Spx is far more restrained than that.
“Elephant Head” is the track where this album’s title, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, appears. Spx can be heard singing the phrase over and over again at the end of “Elephant Head,” as though it were a sort of folk blues mantra. I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is truly a musical expression out of time, almost as if Spx was just recently discovered inside some forgotten rural time capsule.
I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is a fairly quiet and graceful album for the most part -- sonically at least. However, the track “Steady” finds Spx building up a steady head of steam. Whereas much of what comes before it is quiet and subdued, this particular track finds the singer and her fellow musicians focusing on a melodic riff that continually intensifies until the climax.
The album concludes with “Lay Me Down,” which returns to Spx’s softer gospel-blues singer-songwriter leanings. Even so, she is also accompanied by a kind of mournful gospel group vocal accompaniment, which makes this one stand out slightly.
Some have described Cold Specks’ music as doom soul, due to Spx’s strong Goth streak. However, there’s always been a touch of doom and gloom in the most heartfelt, heartbreaking soul, so what Spx does isn’t entirely new. Whether new or old, though, it’s obvious Spx has something special going with Cold Specks. If, with the help of Mute Records, Cold Speck’s throwback style becomes trendy, we’ll all be the better for it.
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