Critically acclaimed band, Spektrum are back to well and truly shake up the musical landscape with their cocktail of dark funk, seductively warped vocals and agitated dance-floor filling beats. Beginning their career on Germany’s cult label, Playhouse they spent the last decade ripping up dancefloors across the globe with club hits including ‘Kinda New’, ‘Freakbox’ and ‘Don’t be Shy’.
Their legion of fans include James Murphy, Richie Hawtin, James Priestly, Andrew Weatherall, Tom Findlay of Groove Armada, Mylo and Tieschwarz - the infamous duo responsible for the award-winning mix of ‘Kinda New’ which sold in excess of 80, 000 copies.
The Last Inhabited Place on Earth, the dark dystopian dancefloor filler from Electro Punkers Spektrum sees the band meeting their destiny. In 60 explosive minutes, the band bring together all the strongest elements of their sound and distill it down to the essence of Spektrum. Picture the basement of a dark seedy European club with Parliament, Liquid Liquid and the Tom Tom club doing musical battle with Munchi, Ruby Goe, Die Antwoord and Black Coffee. As pioneers of the UK live music scene, they truly bring the edge of a live show – mixing the raw, wildness of vocalist Lola and drummer Isaac with the produced cutting edge sonics. The band re-create the euphoric yet dark feel of a dancefloor crossed with a protest march.
“Its so important in these times to be really saying something,” says Lola “where are the Felas, the Janis Joplins, the Bob Marleys who would make amazing songs whilst pushing forward ideas?”
Lola rises to this challenge, artfully crafting the hook as protest chant: ‘Sound out the Cannon Charge!’ she cries out over an explosive disco beat. “I have to ask the questions, like in I’ve done it now’ or in Robocops in Flipflops.” The latter was inspired by Lola’s shock at seeing footage of protesters “all gentle and flipflop wearing” being attacked, unprovoked with sound cannons by a police force, “armoured the fuck up” using incredibly sophisticated, almost futuristic methods to beat them into submission.
“Its an absurd situation that in the face of all this political upheaval and social change that people are content with being lulled into soft pop coma.”
This is an album with a lot to say - about the state of the world, the futuristic brutality of the police but also about music. The Last Inhabited Place on Earth brings back the band’s original influences but never falls into retro pastiche with Olegavich at the production helm, not just pushing musical boundaries but breaking them wide open. “A lot of dance music at the moment sounds too synthetic - quantized to death - cause everything is done very introvertly inside one laptop. The way I make beats are more like polyphonic grooves. I try to create the atmospheres of clubs that we’ve actually played, bringing together samples and beats at just the right tempo to create the perfect groove.”
Hot Steppa is a perfect example of this approach where Olegavich creates a beat at a slow almost dancehall bpm then blends it into the funk groove creating the type of genre-busting sound that lead Time Out to note that the band were ‘years ahead of their time’.
The Last Inhabited Place on Earth lifts the lid on Spektrums eclectic influences. Zombie Fools clashes Afrobeat with Egyptian strings against a dramatic, cinematic backdrop, lamenting our desire to conform. Needle and Thread is probably the most perfect synthesis of Olegavich’s classical influence with the more traditional Spektrum references: “It is basically minimal orchestral hip hop but with Lola’s punky theatrical vocals tying it together”.
As befits a band that has toured so extensively, some of the songs are influenced by meetings with remarkable people in extreme situations. “So we have Ambush in Istanbul which is about a guy who started a cult in Istanbul, but its also a kind of twisted disco track” says Amelie Chevalier, the newest band member and bass player.
Taking over the incredibly important duty of holding down the funky bass lines, Chevalier is a long time friend of the band. A trained dancer who performs regularly with groups including The Irrepressibles and Ticket Theatre Dance at Glastonbury, Latitude and The Place; she was a fan of Spektrum before joining the group in 2010. “One of the reasons I’ve always loved Spektrum are the funk basslines - as a dancer and a bass player they are really exciting to play because the they are always rhythmically interesting and really drive the music” says Chevalier.
Contrasting explosions of funk with sequences of contemplative beats over bass lead frequencies, the music sizzles with the dark energy emitted from the depths of the dancefloor that at any moment might self-combust.
“Our music is like a Laksa soup,” says Isaac “its fresh and raw with surprises lurking beneath the surface!”
Avant Garde ideas meet earthy, passionate dance for the next generation in the band called ‘Criminally underrated’ by IDJ magazine.
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| "Pornographic Disco Punk" NME
‘Criminally underrated’ IDJ Magazine
'years ahead of their time' Time Out
'seriously under-appreciated' The Guardian
'Where most bands play up to a one-dimensional caricature of themselves, this London four-piece credit the listener, with some intelligence. Vocalist Lola weaves enigmatic tales of politics, sex and heartbreak, while the band, led by sonic alchemist Gabriel Olegavich, eliver tight, invigorating club bangers: all punk'n'funk'n'clever R&B-influenced detail. Like Hot Chip or The Knife, Spektrum have brains and bass to spare'.
Every song is a triumph, fresh and focused delights laying in wait for anyone who comes across them. (Nov 2007)
‘all-fractious, frou-frou and fun, they make grey surroundings turn to fast-moving Manga scenes as you pace about your day, remind you why you need to dance, now! Lola Olafisoye’s capricious voice tricks and trembles beneath the sub-bass of the bedroom, the disco, the city at once. You’ll dance, if not body-pop.’
‘Spektrum’s ‘Kinda New’ was one of the biggest club records of 2004, and it was a track that summed up the debut album of the London-based four-piece band – electrifying, eclectic and like something out of Broadmoor mental hospital.’
Like a sponge, Spektrum have absorbed all the nastiest and weirdest moments of the last 30 years of dance music and spewed it all back out.
Take a hefty helping of Soulwax, a spoonful of Erol Alkan, a sprinkling of Princess Superstar and a pinch of Justice.
The Guaridan Guide, Pick of the Week: Don’t Be Shy
Easily the fruitiest band in Hackney
Among the morass of bands who’ve been shamelessly copying every post-punk record mad between 1978-1982, London quartet Spektrum are the only ones who seem to get it, mixing a fidgety punk methodology with thrilling jabs of rave, minimalist electronica and global beats.
Put it this way: if Missy Elliot went back in time - and she probably could, she's that talented - to work with Frank Zappa, it might have sounded a bit like The Mirror Man (no relation to the H League song of the same title) and these other examples of satiric boogie. But Spektrum aren't having fun at underground clubbers' expense. Moody Feels Good, Horny Pony, Cedar (The Heat Lodge) and particularly the miraculously funky Don't Be Shy are classics of straight-up new electro-disco.
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