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.

14962557_2129175623975008_841561374179993253_n.jpg

“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.

15288631_2145441805681723_600645171848929703_o.jpg

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.

Review: Empress' Industrial Post-Punk Record 'Ink' Is Buzzy DIY

By: Jesse Sandoval

As the semester comes to a close, a buzz is in the air. Most of us, I imagine, are bristling with the months-long amount of pent up energy that wintertime often leaves us with. We’re biding our time, tending to the last of our stifling inside-duties ‘til that special time of release: summertime, summertime, summertime! And what better music to accommodate these feelings than Empress' most recent release, Ink?

Listen to Ink:

Ink is fun. It’s catchy, it's melodic, it’s earnest, it's punk. Over the span of four years, Empress have been honing their own style of industrial/post-punk and with this release, the Denver-based band has proven they have come into their own. Their DIY approach has led them to a state of self-sufficiency that I am sure many bands pine for. Members Santiago (vocals/percussion), Xavier (bass/rhythm guitar), and Alex (lead guitar/bass) all live together and record everything in their house. This allows them to record at any moment of inspiration and, from what I’m told, them doing just this is not uncommon. Several of the tracks on Ink are likely products of some band member’s sleep being interrupted in order to capture a moment’s inspiration before it’s lost in deep dreams…

Empress.

Empress.

The music on Ink is completely enjoyable because of how straight-cut and organic it is. Empress don’t try to be anything they’re not, and don’t try to affect any sound that isn’t true: they do what they do and that’s it. Their music is strong because of it’s simplicity, and ultimately, it works because it accurately conveys some of the most basic feelings we all share: feelings of longing, of unrequited love, of disconnectedness, of humanity.

As Empress have developed their musical abilities, they’ve also taught themselves to mix their own music (I’m a sucker for DIY) and the progress they’ve made in their last four years is very impressive. In the time since they cut Ink, they have actually been working on some new tracks and were kind enough to share some of those with me too. It’s clear that they are expanding and breaking their own molds, and I can see that there will be more to look forward to from Empress. Unfortunately, we will not be able to witness their long-term growth first-hand because come May, they will be moving to LA to shake up what they can there.

Good news is, on Saturday, May 6th they will be playing a show to celebrate their departure at Seventh Circle Music CollectiveThe Beeves, Meeting House, and others will share the stage. So go give Empress a warm Colorado farewell, and keep up with up with the trio after their move here.

RIYL: Joy Division, New Order, Wipers, The Cure, NIN

-Jesse

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