Chris Russell recorded Spectra after taking a hiatus from creating music. Getting back into the art again, he notes, “I decided to allow myself to merge with this project and just record a collection of vignettes to capture what manifested in the moment.” Russell has always been an artist who looks to explore fresh vistas in his work, and Spectra, by its exploratory nature, covers a fair amount of ground as it shifts through shadow and light. The opener, “Anake,” greets you with a dark wind and a sound like spatters of rain on a koto or zither, punctuated with sudden glissandi. Russell underscores this moody, slow-moving piece with crackles of static for texture. Things brighten considerably on “Vegha,” with pads that rise up shining, yet in spots have an interesting, almost industrial metallic feel. The gentility carries into the smooth and spacey flow of “Domoos.” It whispers its way past on crossing, nicely layered pads, matched for ambient style only by the even softer “Gada.” That track takes you into a dreamy cluster of warm, breathy pads to shut down your ability to have conscious thoughts for 10 minutes. A beautiful, fully immersive piece of classic ambient. Toward the end of the album, Russell heads directly toward the darkness. “Kadium” takes you down a coarsely paved path, edged in thick, immovable shadow. Sparse and grim, it’s an attention-getter, especially coming right after “Gada.” It gives way to “Keon,” which takes an almost minimal approach, building off a repeating bass thrum. There’s more excellent, almost indescribable textural work here, and the whole thing is anchored with a breezing drone beneath it all. The only minor misstep on Spectra for me is the title track, where Russell opts for a lead sound that reminds me too much of an electronic doorbell. It’s not a bad track, but that sound wears a little thin on me.
Spectra shows a few sides of Russell’s considerable talent. Give this a listen, remembering that this is him just taking hold of inspirational moments and following the thread to wherever it leads him. From deep-space drifts to edge-of-darkness forays, it all works quite well, and is another solid addition to an already strong canon of work.
Available from Earth Mantra.