Review: Spiral Cell's New Record Will Have You Questioning A.I. VS Human

By: Norman Hittle

If you can imagine the sounds of progressive/experimental rock set in a sort of sci-fi dystopian storyline and added the ambient sonic elements of a video game, you might just be able to begin to grasp what Spiral Cell is all about. Though I'd also recommend you listen to it, you know, because words can only describe music so much.

Check out Spiral Cell's The Maze In The Tree Rings:

Scott Uhl is the harbinger of the multi-faceted, multi-media, and multi-conceptual Spiral Cell project. And he's beginning to accomplish what a great many people in the music industry are predicting for the future: a fully integrated and multi-level experience combining music, art, storytelling, and gaming. What's more is his drive to put on a great live show with all of this- including synchronized lighting, backing tracks, and full stage decor.

 Spiral Cell. Photo Credit: Underexposed

Spiral Cell. Photo Credit: Underexposed

Delving in to Spiral Cell's latest record, The Maze In The Tree Rings, I'm reminded of the juggernauts in the progressive/experimental movement and the nods made to legendary acts like Pink Floyd as well as more contemporary acts like The Dear Hunter and the Devin Townsend Project when I listen to Spiral Cell.

Scott told BolderBeat: “My goal as I was putting this together was to make something that viewers would at least pay attention to. Whether they like it or not, that’s not the point- as long as they pay attention. I’m a live performer, and I always love performing live. The studio recordings of it are necessary, but my main focus is putting on an intriguing live show. Since the first show, I said my goal was to get people to either say, 'That was f*cking amazing!’ or ‘What the f*ck was that?!’ If I get one of those, I’m happy!”

 Photo Credit: Underexposed

Photo Credit: Underexposed

Though Scott claims there’s an established storyline to the project, he’s not quite ready to tell all of it. But he encourages us to listen and see what it means to you as the listener.

“Prologue” begins accapella, among haunting piano and guitar mixed with static radio transmissions. “(Re)start” encourages the sci-fi video game theme with an interlude between an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and the presumed protagonist user, bleeding into “Divergence / Discovery” with its melancholy guitar notes echoing into a progressive and industrial climax. “Immersion” gallops in on incessant strumming before easing into a washed out dream state, while “Wake / Walk” is a chill and upbeat instrumental track that could easily find it’s way into the ending credits of a movie. “Ellipsis” is another sort of interlude that seems to convey the sense that the protagonist may not survive whatever it is the A.I. is testing them on. “Taste” continues the A.I. dialogue while bleeding into an enigmatic bossa nova rock sound, while “Cellophane Blindfold” comes together with a film noir lounge sound through the dialogue of what sounds like a detective on a voice memo recorder.

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“Asymptote” is a haunting piano laden countdown to what seems like some sort of driver simulation that flows into “Spiral”, which is another user versus A.I. type of interlude. “Consonance” is a pensive, piano driven arpeggiation that progresses into full industrial electrorock with the A.I. giving some sort of psionic-test with riddles. “Free Flow” formulates under a chill indie electropop flag, along with string instrumentals and female vocals, while “Ocean” creates a longing and beckoning vibe in a calming alt blues meets electopop vibe. “Untitled” carries its namesake in a mysterious assortment of samples over a bed of echoing pianos, and finally “The Prism” concludes the complex tale of this record with dreamy acoustic guitar and autotuned male vocals.

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Check out Spiral Cell September 29th at Sunshine Studios Live in Colorado Springs supporting One Eyed Doll and keep up with Spiral Cell on Facebook.

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.