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A review of...
Condition by Spectres
Album number two from everyone's favourite mischeivous noise makers
Two years on from their colossal debut Dying, Spectres have returned with a new album, and they don't seem to have mellowed much. Tracks like "Welcoming The Flowers" will be essential listening for anyone who thought the band had been holding something back on their previous releases. Yes this album contains many songs that best anything from Dying, or even their excellent remix album Dead in terms of sheer sonic barrage. It's pretty amazing then that this is such a pleasurable listen. The songs on Condition seem to have a deeper clarity, so that even when you're faced with masses and masses of feedback and unsettling guitar noises (see "Dissolve" for perhaps the most potent example), nothing sounds jarring, the response from the listener should never be anything short of "wow". The album was recorded by Dominic Mitchison and mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road and they've done a great job of harnessing Spectres abrasive live sound and moulding it into something more studio friendly.
Spectres have said that there was talk of dabbling in something more electronic in the run up to these sessions (perhaps being inspired by Factory Floor or Vision Fortune or Stuart Braithwaite or any of the other talented people that remixed Spectres' songs for the Dead album). But in the end, the band realised that they could still weave some magic from those daft old-fashioned guitars (this band obviously didn't get the "guitar music is dead" memo that goes round the music press every single year). Such experimentation can be heard throughout this album, especially during the industrial opening of "Dissolve" and the relentless riff on "Neck". I use the term "riff" loosely because there aren't really any riffs at all here. Just various abstract sounds that have been sculpted to form something that resembles a pop song.
Joe Hatt's vocals are also slightly more coherent on this release, occasionally sounding like an XTRMNTR era Bobby Gillespie (especially on the brilliant "Neck"), but apart from that, Condition is mostly a constant wall of sound. There's seldom space for let up, except for "A Fish Called Wanda" which has sections where Darren Frost's bass and Andy Came's drums are given masses of space, sounding like separate instruments for the first time. This is more of an exception than a rule though, and before long the four instruments are welded together again, and it sounds just great.
It probably won't come as a surprise that Condition is not an album for the faint of heart, but as far as Spectres albums go, this is actually the most welcoming they've ever been.