Nova Scotian Arms has concocted a sprawling, sophisticated catalog of winding compositions and dizzying drones. Grant Evans, who is also 1/2 of Quiet Evenings and co-curator of the Hooker Vision label, is the brains behind the entire operation. Throughout numerous releases he has shown a consistent ability to keep listeners guessing as he explores endless sonic territories. With Cult Spectrum, Evans is drowning himself in a hazy aural sea.
Like much of his work, there is a very distinct mood on Cult Spectrum. This is funereal music that is stretched to its breaking point. Distant galaxies are buried underground in a delicate mix of sounds that are as cosmic as they are organic. This duality is at play straight-off with the masterful opener, “Gathering/Composition.” Soaring in crystal skies on beds of hiss, each strained note from Evans’ Rhodes piano that emerged from the murk is an anchor keeping the song and the mood gravity-stricken. It works to perfection, drawing in the listener immediately.
Tape loops and radio interference deliciously muddy the waters of Cult Spectrum. The 16+ minute burner, “Emulsion,” combines all those and more into a cacophonous stew. Acoustic guitars circle around and die in the swirling synthetic drain. Each wave emerges in stages as Evans shows considerable compositional skill in the way the piece is put together. With “Overcast Strumming (1st Delay)” comes a melancholic, skyward glance. Electronic corridors take shape and find a simple beauty through tonal dichotomies. Blurred drones are puncuated by bursts of fuzz, working in tandem to find that sonic bliss.
If Cult Spectrum is Nova Scotian Arms’ biggest stage and loudest statement then the message is coming through loud & clear. Grant Evans is a force to be reckoned with. This is the sound of dissonance sculpted and shaped into something far greater and leaves its mark long after the final, ghostly seconds of “Hearse Overdub (Decomposition)” fade away. Evans is digging a tunnel, heading straight for the sun.
Mastered by Lawrence English.
Art by Grant Evans.