Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Tom Hall: Spectra

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Artist: Tom Hall
Title: Spectra
Format: CD
Label: Elli Records
Describing himself as an audio-visual artist, Tom Hall’s instrumental album Spectra sits somewhere between conventional synth-electronica- with hints of symphonic synthwave- and more experimental and drone tones, but with a reverent attitude to tonality and melody that prevents any of the pieces from stepping too extensively into the latter category. Hall openly references a broad set of influences from musique concrete to ‘quasi-pop’ and it’s an interesting melting pot that produces results that, while not revolutionary, certainly have a quality taste.

The release doesn’t retain the energy it begins with when opener “One Fell Swoop” starts, settling down into more atmospheric territory over time, but it’s not without its energetic elements- “Remain”, for example, has strong hints of the rapid-cut granular synthesis heard on BT releases like “This Binary Universe”.

The ‘one track to listen to on Spotify to see if you’ll like the album’ track would probably be “Intersect”, which gives you a strong idea of what’s going on here. The organ drone of “Ebb” could pass as the experimental final track on an EBM album, with some parts sounding like an early Chemical Brothers release with the beats taken off- last track “Last Retreat” reminds me, rightly or wrongly, of a beatless “The Private Psychedelic Reel”. “Flow” runs on similar lines but with some more unusual, ethnic-sounding bowed elements that give it a more distinctive profile.

Working with digital synth sounds commonly found in synthwave and pushing them into slightly more improvised, soundtrack-like and experimental directions, without losing track of their primary associations, Spectra is pretty successful without being eye-opening.


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