News updates for SPC ECO

SPC ECO, Thee Koukouvaya at Stereo Embers

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SPC ECO at Raised by Gypsies

The first time that I listened to “DARK MATTER” we were driving in the car, the three of us, on our way to our first hockey game.     We were technically on our way to Springfield, MA but we drove past it to go up to the Holyoke Mall first.     There aren’t a lot of places you can go within Connecticut that take more than an hour but from Meriden, CT to Holyoke, MA is a pretty decent drive and we listened to this SPC ECO album the whole way there.    I only make mention of this because I own so many great albums which have stayed with me over the years and I’ve always found myself listening to them and under the impression of my hearing it for the umpteenth time and yet most of them I cannot recall the first time I heard them but assume it was inside somewhere.    Knowing we experienced “DARK MATTER” for the first time on our way to our first hockey game makes it as special a memory as this album is itself.
 The sound of SPC ECO is one that can be described with many different tags on Bandcamp but ultimately has the vocals and beats at the forefront.    You can call it dark beats, futuristic electronica, dreambeats and probably a few other genres on Bandcamp I don’t want to look up.   The thing is, the music has a post apocalyptic sound to it on some levels and as such reminds me of something you’d hear on the soundtrack to “Tank Girl” and yet at the same time could be on the soundtrack to “The Crow”.   If you require a point of comparison with another existing artist you’d probably go for Garbage or The Postal Service but that isn’t even quite close to how wonderful this sounds.
 One of the biggest factors on this album is the mood it sets and that is done by the tempo.    I like to think of it as being rather sullen and brooding, taking us somewhere but yet it is mellow and chill while still maintaining a certain sense of supsense.    Though it seems like it should not be possible the songs on “DARK MATTER” manage to keep a steady tempo, never slowing down too much and never gaining too much speed, and yet it still seems urgent.   It has that same appeal as something I would say was from the “Alias” soundtrack, or if you could just imagine the speed on this cranked up ten times faster, but yet it can somehow do all that without making the beats faster.
 The beats are also what control the music, which in a way reminds me of hip hop or trip hop but only taken to another level.   It’s not something I can quite explain because I’ve not heard anything like it before, but even though there are other sounds within these songs (including vocals) the beats still remain at the front.   I can only really compare it with how you see a band perform live: the singer/guitarist in the front and center, a bassist to his or her left, another guitarist to the right and then the drummer behind all of them, somewhat hidden behind the drumkit.     As I listen to these songs, I imagine the drummer being front and center, somehow in front of the drumkit even, with everyone else in the background (Though the vocals could be side by side at times)
Though the tempo can change at times into these bursts of lightning which might find you on edge if you are otherwise feeling relaxed, the fact of the matter is that one of the best words to describe the vibe of this album is chill.   However, even though it has that laid back essence to it there is still this importance, this rising within it which makes me feel like it is quite more punk rock than anything else calling itself punk rock these days.   This might not be the brash, screaming in your face type of music you’d expect to resemble such ideas but it does have that “We’re here and we are not to be fucked with” attitude that I just also love so much because it might not be obvious but it is still there.


SPC ECO at Santa Sangre Magazine

Dean and Rose make a spectacular hard left turn into a new arena of sound with their latest, the tempo slows almost to a stop and the atmospheres become so overpowering they nearly knock you out. Now previously they’d sparkled and shined through artful pop but here in this isolated and remote locale we find them stretching out and letting their hair down; when they were picking album titles they surely must have known this would be the one. ‘Dark Matter’ borders on trip-hop but it doesn’t go full on torch song in any of the tracks you’ll hear. Rose has many things to let us know about and few of them sound positive. Interpersonal betrayals and backstabbing treachery appear to be the order of the day with Dean composing what can only be called menace to accompany her words.

SPC ECO have really hit their marks this time around and indeed, over the last couple of albums have become more and more assured. They name no names and offer up little in the way of influence; this has always been how Dean Garcia has written music and now even here where the sun is choked out by thick, rolling clouds of magnificent bass you cannot help but sing along. For how sedate people expected this one to be it has remarkable groove with devilishly placed beats accentuating Rose’s dynamic delivery. What’s more,this record is lengthy with not one note wasted and nothing cluttering up the field. I’d like to see the in house production teams the majors have try to match what I’m hearing here. Just try not to embarrass yourselves too much, little ones.

Somewhere between the small hours and dawn with the dew still clinging to roadside fauna viewed from inside your sleek vehicle with the undertaker glass barreling down the motorway… that’s the setting and these are the pieces to get you there. One sits in silence hearing a song like “Meteor”, unable to muster the courage to interrupt. I know what they’ve done with ‘Dark Matter’ is probably a one-off but goddamn what an excursion this is. Right into the heart of darkness with these two as your pilots; just sit back and try to relax as the intent and tone of what is on here may tempt you into an uneasy sleep.

Yet somehow you’re wide awake.

‘Dark Matter’ glistens and glows like an immaculate Opal lurking in it’s own corner of shadowy contemplation; you’ll have to wait for your eyes to adjust in order to perceive it but once you do my friends, it will pull you in with an undeniably seductive ease. Much like words whispered with the promise of discrete indiscretion; their fulfillment achingly just out of reach… and so we play this again and again.

Through headphones these are even more disturbingly complex and reveal an entire terrarium of fiendish delights. More effects and even more dynamics have somehow been broken out of the SPC ECO arsenal to deliver maximum damage to unwary speakers so watch out. I did this and could feel as well as hear my monitors bulging at the seams trying to keep up as the gain increased. This is very much an in-the-ear sort of release, something to put the Cochlea through it’s paces with. It is definitely worth your while to track this down and lucky lucky us the band themselves have put it up for sale through their Bandcamp. These two are waging a guerrilla-style campaign against musical lethargy and wear their DIY approach like a badge of honor; don’t scoff at it, they’ve managed to get signed yet again to a label and have a new album in the can for 2016.

I’m hopeful they’ll get the recognition they deserve. They have certainly earned it.


SPC ECO at AllMusic

Dark Matter is the sixth full-length album by SPC ECO, a project centered around former Curveguitarist Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin, with contributions from numerous guest musicians. While the group started out making noisy yet poppy electronic-tinged shoegaze in the vein of Garcia‘s former band, it abandoned guitars for its 2014 album, The Art of Pop, embracing more of an icy synth pop sound. Dark Matter finds the group morphing further into dark, moody trip-hop, with thick, slithering beats and heavy, echo-covered bass enveloping Berlin‘s occasionally Auto-Tuned vocals. Her voice inevitably brings to mind Curve‘s Toni Halliday, but there’s a fair bit of ’90s-eraElizabeth Fraser in her as well, and plenty of this album (particularly the swirling, intoxicating standout “Let It Be Always”) suggests what might have happened if the former Cocteau Twins chanteuse had started a side project with members of Massive Attack following the success of their 1998 classicMezzanine. Berlin‘s lyrics live up to the album’s title, with subject matter typically concerning loneliness, regret, paranoia, and heartbreak. Tense, creeping ballads such as “Meteor” and “Under My Skin” (which ends with the line “all I fear is dying alone”) find Berlin at her most aching and vulnerable, while the trap-influenced beats of “Down Low” prove that trip-hop can successfully be updated for the post-Purity Ring era of downtempo electronic pop music.


SPC ECO at Collapse Board

She’s not trying to stalk him. She just doesn’t know how to say hello.

He always arrives just before the first bell, dashing in to his locker by the band room. And Chelsea always slips to the water fountain, right at 7:55, just for a little glimpse. Someone’s usually there at the lockers waiting for him – the mousey girl with the glasses, or the perky dark-haired one that everyone assumes is Hispanic (even though her skin is fair), or the blonde chalky boy that speaks like a broken robot.

Everywhere he goes, someone else follows. Chelsea watches from ten feet away, as students trek in a mob up the hall to third period; from her hiding place by the theater she spies him and his entourage crossing campus to the cafeteria; she glances down the drumline during band practice, whenever the conductor drills the trumpets for the umpteenth time. He is never alone.

“Oh, yawn, girl. Get the fuck over it.” Stacy perches on the low brick wall, her little paunch jutting out over her crossed legs. Chelsea sits next to her, with her ginormous music history textbook still in her lap. She never knows when Stacy will find her. “So did ya listen to that Curve CD I gave ya?”

“Um. I think so,” Chelsea says. Stacy gives her lots of CDs, since clearly Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Return to Forever were “old folks shit”.

Stacy sighs, shaking her curly-haired head. “Look, you’ve got to give up this romance shit and give in to the music, girl.” She coughs. “Stiffs like that guy don’t know what’s real. They stick to their wanker rock shit and don’t know anything.”

“I liked that Massive Attack one,” Chelsea offers, meekly. Just the mention of it triggers the ghost beats again in her head, rattling as they did alongside the cliffsides and grease ropes in her physics questions. Sometimes she hears the woozy raps while she’s watching him down the hall. And she didn’t think she liked rap music, either.

“Oh yeah?” Stacy grins. “Well, I asked bout Curve, cos a friend’s gonna let me have this new thing from their producer dude. He says it’s kinda trip hoppy, so maybe you’ll dig it.”

“OK,” says Chelsea. The bell rings. She scans the passing crowd for his face.

“I’m telling you,” says Stacy as she hefts up her backpack. “get the fuck over it.”

Two weeks later, and Chelsea rests alone on her bed, with SPC ECO drifting across the room like frozen dust. She’s never heard a singer so strung-out on Autotune before. It reminds her of Massive Attack, but slower. Less hop, more trip, she thinks.

The other day, she found him in the alley between buildings, during fifth period, while she was sneaking out of PE. The dark-haired girl was waving her arms and yelling at him. Chelsea watched from in the hall. The next day, only his guy friends met him at the lockers in the morning, their faces grave and frowning.

SPC ECO thumped softly in her head when she trekked up the steep hall, eyes ever tracing him. He recoiled from his omnipresent followers, avoided each one’s gaze. Crowds surge and shift around him – and did he tremble as he finally turns a sharp corner and vanishes out the door?

At lunch, Chelsea sits on the low brick wall and waited for Stacy. She wanted to tell her how much she loves the CD, how it unveils new hiding spaces, how it suspended her in a candle-lit netherworld above and within her known desires. Her music history tome rested unopened beside her.

Nothing. No one. Just one fucking butterfly in the flowers. Chelsea sighed, put away lunchbox and book, and retreated to class, her back on the passing crowd. There are essays to write, after all.

The next morning, Chelsea didn’t visit the fountain at 7:55. She ate her lunch in the classroom, after everyone leaves. His name drifted in whispers around her in the halls, but she did not strain her ear. There was a vacant space in the drumline at band practice (and the conductor yelled at them more than usual). Chelsea kept her head down, and tried not to care.

So she rests now, on her bed, leaning back from the laptop and staring up at the spinning blades on the fan. Perhaps she’ll never know how to say hello. That’s fine. She’d lose herself in SPC ECO instead.


SPC ECO at Backseat Mafia

Here at backseat mafia, were very proud to be able to premiere the new video from SPC ECO, Let It Be Always. As some of you (no doubt the hipsters)may know if that the band (pronounced Space Echo) is the project of former Curve member
Dean Garcia, alongside singer Eve Berlin.

The track is floating, blurry and beautiful experimental almost shoegazey pop, with the emphasis on sound and sound sculptures rather than straight up verse/chorus, and it’s all the better for it. The video is described by the band as being “inspired from the Berberian Sound Studio film, in that we
wanted to make something that sounded like it was recorded on an old
cassette tape machine. The video is a visual representation of what the
song is about which is feeling one way in one situation and then another
depending where you are and the loved ones you are with at the time. It’s
meant to depict a conflicted feeling of loss within yourself and how that
can make you question who you are and what you want.”

Click through for the video debut.


SPC ECO at Stereo Embers

Released one week from today via Saint Marie Records on November 20th, Stereo Embers is beyond excited to present the new album from former Curve guru Dean Garcia’s current project SPC ECO, another (arguably more) startling duo this time blessed by the commanding vocal presence of Rose Berlin. As stated in our review a couple weeks ago, “this is music that stalks you, at the same time emanating a powerfully lingering sexuality that pulls with the always irresistible frisson of danger,” and likely it would be folly to try to further embroider that description. At once shadowy and grounded, SPC ECO brings all the twitching allure you would expect from a band imbued with the Curved heritage as expressed in the modern surveillance state consciousness. Both paranoid and sexy as hell, allow yourself forty-seven minutes of unspeakably dark bliss, courtesy the aptly abbreviated SPC ECO.


SPC ECO at Stereo Embers

Once more in ‘Where have we been?’ territory we come to SPC ECO, the shadowy ambient electronic duo formed in 2007 and consisting of ex-Curve maestro Dean Garcia and dark-dream chanteuse Rose Berlin. Already, withDark Matter, six albums deep into their discography, the brief, waggish description would temptingly posit them as en echo (sorry) of Garcia’s former project rendered in sonic slow motion, as if narrating an apocalypse that’s happening at a pace so hypnotizingly deliberate we don’t even notice, which, thinking about it, is perhaps the point.

While the truth, of course, is far more complex than that, more nuanced, there is a morsel of truth to the tortured comparison if only in the fact that SPC ECO, like Curve, grabs your attention initially on a purely visceral level before revealing the chimerical secrets layered within. If anything, though – and it seems a bit surprising saying this – the great shoegazey shrouds of sound that Curve trafficked in from ’91 to ’03 pale, in terms of listener intrigue, to the explorations of menace and allure offered on Dark Matter.

From the aptly-named “Creep in the Shadows” with its echoey cadence like a tip-toeing dirge, quietly prowling bass and Berlin’s black gloss vocal, to the scraped textures and madhouse whispers of “Let It Be Always,” spare yet luxuriant and cast with a siren’s deathly hope, to “The Whole World Shines”‘ finely dissipated sheen, slightly fractured but almost unbearably magnetic, this is music that stalks you, at the same time emanating a powerfully lingering sexuality that pulls with the always irresistible frisson of danger. It’s a sultry emotional landscape first once traversed by Tricky – “I Won’t Be Heard,” in fact, reminds with shameless brio, of the errant Bristolian, signposting the path we wish the Massive Attack refugee had taken – but in SPC ECO’s hands it’s delivered with a far greater dynamism. The sprawling surety of touch may be similar but the seductiveness, somehow managing to merge the pure with the lurid, much more convincingly seduces. The transgressive thrill of “Down Low” alone, rumbling with deep urban cinematic reverb buried inside a slow thunderous groove, Berlin sounding as positively possessed as she does an enigmatic wraith come to save you, is enough to sell you on the mysterious, nocturne charms of this album. Put it on at midnight and protect yourself from the demons of ennui and mortal despair. Dark Matter runs just a breath past 47 minutes and we now know, finally, after all these years, precisely how long the ‘witching hour’ is. Released 11/20/15, pre-order here.


SPC ECO at Austin Town Hall

First, the name SPC ECO is pronounced as “space echo,” so I’m glad that’s out of the way. Now, let’s spend some time listening to this great piece of industrialized pop music. Sure, I could just call it some minimal version of electro-pop, but it feels like more than that to me. From the album artwork to the sterility lurking just beneath the emotive croon of Rose Berlin, there’s a concept at work here; you’ll hear actual electronic noise construction, not just repetitive bleeps and bloops. Oh, and it cannot hurt that Dean Garcia, formerly of Curve, is the constructionist behind it all. Their new album, Dark Matter, is being distributed by Saint Marie Records, who’ve had themselves quite a run lately. Happy Friday.


SPC ECO at This is Books Music

If you were/are a fan of the 90’s band Curve, you may already be familiar with Dean Garcia. Curve is no more but Garcia has done his share of musical traveling and in 2015, he’s within the boundaries of what he calls SPC ECO, and his partner in rhyme is his daughter, Roe Berlin. Dark Matter (Saint Marie) is the kind of music you might expect to hear within a Portishead or Supreme Beings Of Leisure context. It’s haunting yet honest and direct, and it’s interesting to hear the sounds Garcia creates, as Berlin caresses her soul within the context of what was sonically created.

Arguably, this not the kind of music that you’ll hear anywhere and everywhere but that’s a good thing, for I wouldn’t want to hear this while walking through a supermarket. The album has a certain mood or a collection of moods, and what they’ve done is created to get you in and keep you there during its duration. Whether or not you choose to escape is up to you.

(Dark Matter is available digitally below via Bandcamp. It will be “formally” released on November 20th.)