10 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The second album by Toronto native Cold Specks (Al Spx) is confirmation of the singer’s mighty power. Neuroplasticity shows the artist expanding her take on gospel and blues, and it also proves that her own “doom soul” label is more than accurate. Tracks like the bleating, marching “A Broken Memory” and the creeping “A Quiet Chill” do indeed simmer with a damnation-and-brimstone kind of desperation, and tunes like the elegiac “A Season of Doubt”—with its funereal piano and jazzy trumpet—feel like the final steps in a procession we all want to avoid. “Absisto”—the centerpiece track—is a spooky and bewitching number that boils down the essence of blues and soul into an elixir of hissing cymbals, vocal chants, and ‘60s-era droplets of trippy keyboards. Another highlight, “Bodies at Bay,” veers toward uplift, with pretty, propulsive guitars and snares moving at a nice clip when the reins are loosened. Swans’ Michael Gira lends his own brand of beautiful gloom to “Exit Plan” and “A Season of Doubt.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

The second album by Toronto native Cold Specks (Al Spx) is confirmation of the singer’s mighty power. Neuroplasticity shows the artist expanding her take on gospel and blues, and it also proves that her own “doom soul” label is more than accurate. Tracks like the bleating, marching “A Broken Memory” and the creeping “A Quiet Chill” do indeed simmer with a damnation-and-brimstone kind of desperation, and tunes like the elegiac “A Season of Doubt”—with its funereal piano and jazzy trumpet—feel like the final steps in a procession we all want to avoid. “Absisto”—the centerpiece track—is a spooky and bewitching number that boils down the essence of blues and soul into an elixir of hissing cymbals, vocal chants, and ‘60s-era droplets of trippy keyboards. Another highlight, “Bodies at Bay,” veers toward uplift, with pretty, propulsive guitars and snares moving at a nice clip when the reins are loosened. Swans’ Michael Gira lends his own brand of beautiful gloom to “Exit Plan” and “A Season of Doubt.”

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3:32
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4:22
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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Dark and Seductive Gothic Soul

ethereal_lad,

Cold Specks has the voice of a witch. Ancient, wise and full of fury. The music surrounding her voice is cacophonous and murky. it's dramatic dark rock, swirling synths, mutant horns dramatic shifts in time signatures the resembles the Swans during their gothic folk period. At her best, Cold Specks reminds me of Nina Simone in all her dark priestess glory.

The magic is back!

garabasa,

It’s been worth the wait, but Cold Specks has produced another anthemic collection to plumb the depths of a soul in communion with itself. While nothing can match the nearly spiritual expression of the debut CD, this is a fine sequel, perhaps more meditative, more introspective but equally powerful.

About Cold Specks

Born in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada and based in London, England, Ladan Hussein, who goes by the stage name Cold Specks, describes her signature sound as "doom soul." The child of Somali immigrants, Hussein dropped out of her political science studies at the University of Toronto and moved to London to make music steeped in the old gospel spirituals and traditional folk songs that famed musicologist Alan Lomax spent most of his life putting to tape. Her unique blend of deep Southern soul, Tom Waits/Jeff Buckley-inspired blues, and goth-tinged indie folk first caught the public's attention after an appearance on the popular British music program Later...With Jools Holland. She released her debut single, "Holland," in 2011, and in 2012 she inked a deal with Mute Records and released her debut album, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Her sophomore long-player, Neuroplasticity, arrived in 2014 and featured contributions by Swans' Michael Gira and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. While touring in support of the album, Hussein watched videotapes of her father's band, Iftin, which he founded in the '70s while living in Somalia. She learned more about her Somali heritage, particularly her family's hometown of Mogadishu before the war that scattered her relatives, and channeled it into her third album, Fool's Paradise. Co-produced by Hussein and Jim Anderson, the album featured Cold Specks' first songs in the Somali language as well as performances by Arcade Fire bassist Tim Kingsbury. ~ James Christopher Monger

  • ORIGIN
    Etobicoke, Ontario

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