Review: Spartak - Five Points

Spartak - Five PointsThe last time I heard Spartak was through 2010’s Verona; an album of improvisation tumbling in all directions at once, with tom drums kicking up guitars and other ethereal matter like dust. Turns out they’ve obliterated their identity and reconstructed it, with legacy present in only name and in tiny textural flashbacks. If Verona was an album of subconscious reflex – moving when it feels good, without the mediation of justification – Five Points is a record of deliberate action and precision, each track a 4/4 Rubik’s cube of squared-off glitch, cymbal collage, slurred delay and tamed mistake. I’ve departed the limitless desert of Verona for artificial architecture and seamless pavement tessellation; an electro-pop nightclub built from tons of monochrome Lego, or a haunted production line starting up all by itself.

Put simply, these are songs. Soft voices deliver troubled and fond passages of thought, bouncing back off the rhythmic edges and tracing the melody in vague, slurred parallel. But what allures me to these pieces is the dispersal of focus. In spite of their rigid structure, there is no centre of gravity around which all elements adhere; melody and rhythm exist as democratically conjured shapes that emerge from the particular sequence of fragments. My attention flits across the stereo frame as the focal point passes from a hummingbird synthesiser to a bubble of bass line funk, and then back to a male/female drawled duet at the centre, before drifting toward a stuck guitar sample buried somewhere beneath the drums. The vocal protagonist at the centre sounds appropriately displaced, reluctant to step forth upon a surface that jitters and swaps under feet, dizzied by the spiral of looped time and printer jam. Perhaps that’s why the four remixes at the end sound so effortless – Five Points is less an indivisible whole and more a mutual understanding between micro-shapes, with this record acting as just one possible configuration of its own components.