spectral capital 2 & 3
Brian Tester "Spectral Capital 2&3"
Good electronic music feels pregnant with setting; whether reflective of existing warehouse rave locations or imaginary crystal castles, it feels possible to hear and experience places and pulses within tones and beats. So in talking about Brian Tester's "Spectral Capital 2&3" it feels necessary to mention Oakland and its state of flux - the way that downtown has shifted from an ominous ghost town into a tone-deaf playground for new money and tech children, the way in which extreme poverty and sprawling homeless camps exist as neighbors to hastily constructed Emerald City condominiums, and perhaps most relevantly the way in which both the city and speculative development have joined forces to accelerate the war on culture. This collective dread is palatable in the Town, and as such "Spectral Capital 2&3" is a record of dread, of haunted hollow scenes and warped and scattered perspectives sounding something like Blade Runner and For a Few Dollars More shredded and merged in a digital blender (though perhaps with a little more Vangelis than Morricone).
Opener "Grambler's Dub" is an appropriate showcase of BT's talents, coming on strong with a stutter-step glitchy beat, steeping for awhile in swelling synthesizers, only to wash clean with a distorted guitar drone creeping slowly like a distant but approaching subway car. Lines could be drawn to fellow knob-twisters Squarepusher or Mouse on Mars but even on the more UK sounding tracks like "This Could Be (Your Saturday Night) Part I" there's a heavy drone/noise influence as well, as the song's futuristic beat eventually snakes out into a wash of white noise reminiscent of an 8-bit Dead C. Tester gets wide & diverse arrangements out of a pretty limited set of tools, with tracks like "Welcome Winter" building momentum with layers of jittery, heavily effected guitar loops until a stone-faced guitar lead saunters in like the sheriff 'round these parts to anchor the cacophony. Overall "Spectral Capital 2&3" has its anxious eye on the future, creating seven vibrant but perilous digital landscapes in which everything is moving so fast you may not notice that it's all heading down.
- Dav D’estroyer
OAKLAND CALIFORNIA 2019
& nick barbeln