Alex Balchin is an artist from the UK who just released Spectra. It’s a DIY bedroom effort that revolves around guitar and pedals. These short pieces are atmospheric, ambient and Balchin explains, “the tracks were created to overlap and tell a story, a soundtrack to an unwritten sci-fi story.”
The guitar work is basic on this album and mostly revolves around lots of reverb and delay. These effects are nothing new and all things considered sounds like you stepped into a guitar center where someone is messing around with their huge selection of pedals. Balchin also utilizes panning quite often on this track. Perhaps the oddest thing about some of the tracks is the way a number of tracks just end abruptly as if he ran out of tape.
He opens with “Approach” which is one of the highlights on the album. The mood is murky, ominous and perhaps the track most apt to be used in a sci-fi horror movie. I would say the track works because of the dark pads beneath the guitar itself. The way the guitar raises from the depth is well done.
Up next is “Void” which is brighter. The thing that separates this track from the opener is it just feels like guitar. What worked on the first track is that it created a sense of atmosphere. “Transmission” fares a bit better but relies on a simplistic delay and reverb effect. “Interception” introduces some distortion into the mix. It’s a bit harsh and sounded like a more minimalistic and lo-fi version of the band Fuck Buttons.”Contact” seemed to be a mere continuation of “Interception.”
“Ascension” is another solid track that was about on par with the opener. I liked the effects here and the guitar sounded like a harp. Balchin has some decent ideas on Spectra. Some of it works better than others. He isn’t quite on the same level as atmospheric guitar minimalists such as Windy & Carl but this is just the beginning for Balchin.
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