Spartak: Version Room
hellosQuare Recordings

Version Room, so named in homage to classic dub recordings, is a seven-track set that finds Spartak's (percussionist Evan Dorrian and Shoeb Ahmad on guitar, computer, vocal, and electronics) debut album Tales From The Colony Room made over by some of their favourite colleagues. With artists associated with 12k (Pillowdiver, Tomasz Bednarczyk) and Room40 (Lawrence English) on hand, the listener knows a little bit of what to expect and isn't disappointed in that regard. Version Room pulls the original material away from its occasionally fiery origins to a field whose stylistic terrain is a tad more uniform and circumscribed, with many of the producers opting for electroacoustic ambient-drone variations.

Pillowdiver's (René Margraff) “5:44 (3:44 mix)” emphasizes jazzy stream of noirish electric guitar strums and hyperactive cymbal shadings, and that jazz dimension carries over into Cleptoclectics' “Sunstrokes,” which, in contrast to the vocals-and-guitars dominated original, becomes a freely mutating setting of drums and electric piano that calls to mind outfits like Triosk and Soft Machine. Lim-Klumpes' “Station Seven” presents an atmospheric improv of many moods (from turbulent to peaceful in a span of five minutes) centering on the interplay of percussion, electronics, piano, wordless vocals, and guitars, while Lawrence English's “A Crack in the Nation” begins life as a rippling, textural ambient-drone but eventually gets take over by Dorrian whose combustible playing refuses to be contained. In addition, Bednarczyk's “The Bloodletting” focuses on a wavering ambient-drone flow wherein the occasional shudder of guitar bobs to the surface, and Jasper TX ‘s “Night and Day” features seven rumbling minutes of ghostly static, electric guitar swarms, and disembodied voices. While short by CD standards, the thirty-two-minute running time feels just about right for Version Room's cassette presentation.

February 2011