The electronic project of Austin, Texas musician Alex Cuervo, Espectrostatic has been grabbing the ears of horror fans since the first self-titled full-length in 2013. While there’d been a digital-only EP, Skeletactical, in 2012, it was that debut LP on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind which put Cuervo and Espectrostatic at the forefront of soundtrack-inspired musicians.
Since then, there have been two digital EPs and another full-length, Escape from Witchtropolis, in 2014, also on Trouble in Mind. Silhouette was released digitally nearly a year and a half ago, and while a self-released cassette version of the music came out earlier this year, many wondered if it would get a proper vinyl pressing.
Happy day of happy days, then, when the UK’s Burning Witches announced they’d be releasing a limited vinyl edition of 500 copies on translucent blue wax. Even better, not only did artist HauntLove remix and remaster the artwork for the release, but Burning Witches co-founder BurningTapes remastered Silhouette especially for the format.
Granted, this is something that needs to be done for most releases, but I’ve been listening to these songs for well over a year now. They’ve been played through multiple stereos, several different pairs of headphones and earbuds, and Silhouette has never sounded as good as it did the moment opening cut, “The Corridor,” did when I dropped the needle on it.
The music of Espectrostatic has been evolving and changing all along the course of Cuervo’s six years with the project, and it’s always for the better. That’s not to say the older material is bad, of course: it’s just that the rather more obvious aping of his influences has given way to a synthesis of said influences into something more cohesively unique. Whereas earlier albums were sort of a hodgepodge — wherein there were individual tracks influenced by Fabio Frizzi, John Carpenter, and assorted other composers — Silhouette is a collection of Espectrostatic pieces.
“Dead End City” sounds like nobody else. It’s so astonishingly catchy, while still sounding like doom and gloom, that its all-too-brief running time seems like a tease. It could play for hours and I don’t think I’d ever tire of it. Few Espectrostatic tracks over the years have ever featured guitar or live drums in such a way, yet it still comes before the pure synth of “This Modern Curse,” and this is without the transition between the two sounding at all awkward.
BurningTapes’ remaster of these tracks is transformative. The title track, which kicks off the second side, veers between the deep cadence of the backing track and the curling tones of the guitar without sounding as if anything is too prominent or faint in the mix. It’s a delicate balance to achieve, but it’s astonishing how close these tracks get to being pushed into the red without ever veering into the abyss. Silhouette has gone from an album I enjoyed to one I absolutely love.
HauntLove’s cover art is available as an art print, included in the packaging, although with a more blue tint to it than the jacket’s rather grey color. It’s also not as derezzed, making it rather more artistic, though no less sinister. The blue also ties in with the vinyl color, which is a transparent blue. Much like the Brass Hearse LP, the numbering here is on a sticker attached to the shrink wrap, so you’ll want to cut the plastic and leave it there, should that sort of thing matter to you.
Silhouette is available on vinyl from Burning Witches’ Bandcamp.