10 May 2021 - Gene
Cinematic Post-Rock, Synth Rock, Alternative | gdańsk | Release date: 30 Jan 2021
“Contemporary Cinematic Post-Rock rubs elbows with no doubt unsavory late quasi-Industrial Ulver-types. Johnny Greenwood, reporting”
If you’ve been following along at the fringes, as I have, you will have already caught wind of Poland’s Spoiwo. Their first record, the svelte Solute Solitude erupted like a Post-Rock opera from the stifled depths: a place you can catch Sigur Rós doing Mulholland Drive S/T covers at 3am on any given Sunday.
Spoiwo’s trajectory from that dense, dreamy outing to Martial Hearts has been nothing if not additive. Impossibly, they may have pulled off a sophomore slam with a record even more thematically and sonically vibrant than the first. And it has taken on brave new modes – pleasantly unexpected – with its visceral manipulation of textures, hip-jangling percussion and the addition of vocals.
“Wild Eyes” sees billowing ambience bloom into a glitchy dance beat. Synths crackle like ball lightning. Bass rings doom. Plodding forth, awash in wailing keys, over thick drum and bass, something urgent but nondescript – in the hazy distance – resolves and fades out of view.
“Two Mountains” destabilizes things quickly with the introduction of the narrator’s pitch-shifted voice – heart-rending in its deliberate delivery – lamenting, as you would, like a downtuned Lanegan; carried along on dreamy sweeps of synth and deftly brushed toms. Keys that swell and lilt: breathing, repeating, and channeling all that forlorn, cautious hope.
From there, “Riot Sons” reaches even lower while every motion seems to lift you up, sweep you along, hinting at a journey just behind your eyes. A carefully orchestrated dissonance which intensifies on the follow-up, “Verge”, a cut featuring some of the most evocative texture-work you will ever hear. High keys cutting through that deep rumble, evoking here a march, and there a distant chant, all tense with anguish and intent.
“Oyum” is a quick bopping burst, a little shuffle. Proving again that Spoiwo can swing. “Taur” picks up the theme again with some good old cinematic Post-Rock in the mix recalling the first record again. Cymbals crash, keys crescendo, guitar wails, and when the textures’ tone changes, you feel yourself skating a mood, as it carries you down, down.
That twisted voice returns on “Wounds”, ominous in its smoky hues, spotlit now, above the curtain of luscious noise. The wail of the strings, the resounding keys. This, to me, is one of the most gratifying, certainly one of the most adventurous cuts on the record, and it is just perfectly balanced in a show of graceful force and new-age Blues. Emotion carried on and beyond language. That picture ends too soon and leads into the droning, tremulous demise of “Ghost Of Chance”, at last. A final solace beyond the curtain of noise, where hope might live.
Spoiwo have shattered expectations on Martial Hearts with an offering not merely tighter than their last, but relevant, radical and righteous, with its beautifully realized art direction and killer production. Its seamless interplay of sounds both industrial and organic. And, exceptionally, for a record rooted in experimentalism and abstract expression, it never lifts a finger from the pulse of the groove. This is one of those records that will test the limits of your woofers and make you sway. Martial Hearts is an early entry into this listener’s 2021 AOTY list, with staying power. And I am literally dying to hear what Spoiwo comes up with next.