Dead Voices on Air

From Labrador to Madagascar

by Mike Schiller

11 February 2007

 

The dueling musical sensibilities of Mark Spybey have finally suitably merged on From Labrador to Madagascar, the first Dead Voices on Air studio album in seven years.  Before 1998, he was a strictly ambient sound manipulator, able to create layers of dread with gloomy found sound and the liberal use of delay effects.  Then came Piss Frond, the closest thing to a commercial breakthrough that an artist like Spybey ever sees, which saw the introduction of traditional song structures and even some vocal turns.  2000’s Frankie Pett Presents… the Happy Submarines felt like more of a stopgap than anything, though it turned out to be a stopgap that lasted seven years.  Finally, Spybey is back, combining long, ambient (though rife with percussion) exercises like “Madagascar” with shorter, more structured experiments like the pounding, abrasive opener “Tongue Like Scree” and the didgeridoo-touched, disembodied voices of “Grueland”.  Though discordance and dread are his trademarks, however, the best moments on From Labrador to Madagascar are the pretty ones, the delayed wood flute of “Furtive” and the distant cathedral choirs of “Splay” sticking out as the strongest moments on a really-damn-good album.  It’s unlikely that Spybey will ever again release anything as accessible (not to mention accomplished) as Piss Frond, but for anyone in the market for some dark, dynamic ambient music, missing From Labrador to Madagascar would be a minor tragedy.

From Labrador to Madagascar

Rating:

 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.

 

//comments
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Saul Williams Commands Attention at Summerstage (Photos + Video)

// Notes from the Road

"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.

READ the article