Review Roundup: The latest synthy jams from Spun Out of Control

Album Review / featured / News / July 6, 2018

Throughout the history of London cassette label Spun Out of Control, Gavin Stoker and company have released faux soundtracks, actual soundtracks, ‘80s synthpop-inspired jams, and more. It’s a stylistically-diverse, yet thematically-linked set of cassettes, where even the liner notes on the J-cards deserve more credit than they get. Take, for example, what you get when you open up Turquoise Moon’s Midnight Demon:


Los Angeles, 1983. A demon comes to earth… a beautiful demon, and she’s here to feed.

A lonely, hard boiled cop is on the trail of a series of seemingly connected murders across the city.

As the case unfolds, he falls in love with a mysterious, hypnotic woman. Unbeknownst to him, she is the killer he has been looking for. And she’s not of this earth. As the truth unfolds, he faces a stark choice…. kill the woman he loves, or let the demon live.”

How can you not want to listen to that — especially after reading a biography of the duo, Turquoise Moon, up to and including a tease for an unreleased album and the soundtrack to Midnight Demon 2? It’s such a perfect tease, and it sets up the music so well — which is, of course, something between sci-fi and cop flick. I’d like to think the film ends up being something similar to 1987’s The Hidden, but the score is all synths instead of Michael Convertino’s mostly strings.

Turquoise Moon’s music is pretty….well, it’s pretty. It’s that sweet-meets-heat sound utilized by so many erotic thrillers, but minus the wailing sax. It’s sensual, but mysterious. It’s a little ominous at first — especially the main title theme, “The Arrival,” along with “Prowling for the Flesh” — but eventually smooths out into a more romantic set of themes. No lie, I would watch this movie.

The audio samples on Collins’ Suzy Went Missing are the most terrifying sounds Spun Out of Control have put out. I have no idea how the musician came up with the faux pieces of dialogue, but they are 100 percent nightmare fuel. Literally, the first thing you hear as opening track, “Crawlspace,” kicks off is: “You could hear them calling — the voices of the dead.” And it’s all jittery and glitchy, like it’s coming through some sort of aural time warp, too, so when the drum beat that opens the first proper musical track, “Secret Polaroid,” kicks in, it’s like a terrifying heartbeat.

The voices get fainter and more broken up as the album continues — as in the waning moments of “Toybox” or the opening of “Silo 17” — but then take center stage again on “Forever Fourteen,” wherein Suzy narrates her story, including the definitively creepy line, “I was 14 when I was murdered.” That simultaneously explains a lot and also brings up quite a few other questions, to the point where I’m halfway through the next track — “Beneath A Red ‘X’” — before I really notice how amazingly the glassine chimes and deep bass play off one another.

The music of Suzy Went Missing is described in the press release as being very similar to that of a Nicolas Winding Refn film, and while it definitely sounds like a companion piece to Cliff Martinez’s score for The Neon Demon, this quote from the musician explains more so where the music came from: “With this album I wanted to continue my exploration of the dark side of human nature found on my previous releases: the fear of being alone and the depths to which certain types of personality, certain types of people, can reach in order to avoid the feelings of alienation and loneliness.”

It’s a bleak set of bangers, to be sure, but it’s so well put-together (just look at how arresting the cover art by Eric Adrian Lee is) that you’ll find yourself digging in deeply, returning again and again to see, maybe, if you can translate this “message to loved ones still in the realm of the living.”

Slightly less emotionally devastating, but no less interesting is Spun Out of Control’s upcoming second vinyl release, Correlations’ Aftermath. It’s the project’s third album overall, and it comes as the sequel to their 2017 release, Night Acquisitions. The trio of Neil Hale, Pablo Clements from Toydrum, and The Simonsound’s Simon James once again craft “beautifully cinematic electronica in which layers of buzzing synths weave epic earworm melodies for the listener.” But, this go-around also sees Correlations stretching out a bit.

Whereas Night Acquisitions felt like a series of sketches or film cues, Aftermath feels more like a proper album, and the description of “If My Bloody Valentine played synths instead of guitars” isn’t too far off. Tracks like “Elevator Scene” and “Luv To Haight” are big, noisy washes of sound where the fuzz is the melody, but the fact that they’re paired with more traditional ‘80s soundtrack jams like “Resistance is Underground” and penultimate cut, “Driving 80,” keeps the music from just being an exercise in noisy drone.

Plus, the midpoint cut “Cosmic Club (Starck Reality)” comes so close to Italo disco that it makes me want to throw on some neon clothes, oversized mirrored sunglasses, and pop my collar. If ever a track screamed for a remix, this is it, and it really proves just how much room Correlations has to move around in their wheelhouse.

All of these in the last few months would be amazing enough, but the label is also releasing a remastered version of Steve Nolan’s score for Sodium Party as their debut vinyl pressing. When I reviewed it for Starburst Magazine back in March of 2016, I gave it 10/10, because the release — one of the label’s first — set the bar absurdly high, right out of the gate. As I said at the time, Nolan’s score encompasses “two complementary, but different aspects…In both modes, Nolan is operating a slow burn, preferring to add layers, rather than upping the tempo.”

It was amazing then and has only gotten better since. There’s no better way to introduce yourself to Spun Out of Control than with this limited edition of 300 hand-numbered units on classic black wax complete with an obi strip. Or, if you’re a longtime fan, there’s no better way to go all the way back to the beginning.

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Nick Spacek
Nick Spacek was once a punk, but realized you can’t be hardcore and use the word “adorable” as often as he does. Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with four cats and usually goes to bed by 9. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online.

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