Vancouver witch-wave duo Kristen Roos and Prophecy Sun, collectively known as Spell, conjure sensations like Rorschach tests, with which we can only grope at meanings, and frisk with postmodernism that brims with fragmentation and prior truths, while eschewing pretension. And they do it all in five tracks on Lull, their spacey sophomore EP, a sparkling follow up to last year’s hypnotic Hex.
Refining their reflective ephemera, Lull‘s aural collages use elements of ambient, psychedelia, found sounds, and other choppy oddball items with art-damaged audacity. If any of this seems self-important, rest assured, it isn’t. Mashing the sublime with the recognizable, Spell is eclectic and art-chic. It’s smart, but has incoherence and like a lot of music in this vein it begets a certain trainspotting mindset (recalling empyrean acts like Delirium, His Name Is Alive, and Ida), but more than that Lull gently tugs at ideas while fitting pieces in a dissonant fantasia.
Sun’s soft whispers on “Don’t Resist,” coupled with Roos’ glitches and tweaks are a revelation of home recording genius, both stylish and stable. “Guided Highways” expands on the aesthetic, driving down eerie, nocturnal spaces rescuing lost souls by placing auditory oddities into a new context in a fashion like avant-garde Beat Generation collaborators and “cut-up” popularizers William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. In fact, it was Burroughs who once suggested that, “You have to cut up the past to find the future,” and this may be a maxim close to Spell’s generous tenderness.
Roos’ sacrosanct sound collage constructions and Sun’s haunting cries are very free-form, and this may be a blatantly non-commercial manoeuvre. Sure, it’s also intriguing and helps to broaden one’s palette. Like emerging from a musty-smelling labyrinth to midnight radiance in a winter garden glimpsed only by a select and adventurous few.
Lull ascends through ironies, hallucinations, despair and renewal, to make an EP that’s easy to listen to, yet full of challenges. In this mosaic of bleakness and beauty, Spell mesmerizes.