SOUNDS : 3 January 1987

SPK 'Zamia Lehmanni'
(Side Effects SER 09)***1/2

SPK are never ones to be bound by expectation or formula. Their history is littered with fleeting glimpses of drastic environments and inquisitive moves. Their moves have fluctuated from the inpenetrable, discordant 'Leichenzchrei' of 1981 to the cohesive, industrial dance power of 1984's 'Machine Age Voodoo'. And now, not content to wallow in the praise and scepticism of transient souls, they move in their own sweet time to more challenging roles.
'Zamia Lehmanni' (Songs of Byzantine Flowers) is a world away from the pop impregnated force of 'Machine Age Voodoo'. Its overall spirit is bathed in a classical mysticism conjured from the sounds and instruments of New Guinea and Indonesia. These textural pieces are occasionally accompanied by choral chants that add a haunting air. Their restraint belies an inner strenght that sends shivers down your vulnerability.
SPK make music of conviction. They aren't in the business of parody. They immerse themselves fully in their new guise, and what emerges is a mutated slant on ancient values as the true spirit of the Orient finds itself accommodating Western idiosyncracies and glimpses of their industrial past appear to form a majestic panorama.
SPK have developed an image that makes it easy for people to dismiss them as indulgent antagonists, but it's only through their exploratory ventures that those less brave have followed a smoother ride.
For those who endeavour to seek out SPK and persevere, the rewards can be satisfying and durable.
'Zamia Lehmanni' is rich in colour and imagery. It'll sooth the aches and pains of perverted realism and leave you cleansed and fresh.

Kevin Murphy

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