Von Spar Von Spar

[Tomlab; 2007]

Styles: German architecture, no wave, slow build
Others: Audionom, A Silver Mt. Zion, The Rapture

Von Spar is a German band with German plans. Like domination and equality. Their press kit proudly proclaims them as “the German answer to the post-punk/no-wave renaissance.” Not realizing there was ever a question, Von Spar are clearly more than obliged to provide the answers regardless, with two tracks spread out over 40 minutes. But as I listen through this self-titled album, I can’t quite put my finger on those touchstones the press kit hinted at.

Yet it’s hard to be bothered by this, as the 22-minute “Xaxapoya” chugs along at a labored pace. Floating somewhere between ambience, drum circles, and nighttime UFO invasions, it’s certainly a pleasant listening experience. I can imagine Mulder and Scully chasing the Flukeman through sewers to its tune. After about 10 minutes of this, the pulse quickens and piercing screams ring out (clearly the sounds of the Flukeman’s victims). The track then pacifies itself, and a lone, space-age synthesizer hammers down. Then another. And then in pops some Luke Jenner-sounding motherfucker, and it all makes sense. The song carries itself the rest of the way as a sparse, kinda fun, dance-punk track, which is about as conventional as Von Spar come.

The other track, “Dead Voices In The Temple of Error,” pulls a similar trick, building up carefully over 10+ minutes and then letting it all fall loose -- except this time the song ruptures and the substance that oozes out is the contents of the Flukeman’s septic tank hideaway. Can this really be the same band that wrote the first track? It can't be. This must be a mega-sized split single, and the band that crafted the B-side prefers to remain nameless. And I don’t blame them -- this is awful. Beginning with some quiet dissonance and semi-random noise, the music carefully gives way to a half-assed, spooky Aphex Twin riff with some unintelligible muttering thrown in the mix for good measure. Halfway through this section, there are admittedly enough layers to warrant a listen, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve heard all the individual parts done before with more stylistic flavor.

But conveniently misplace any enjoyment you might've gleaned from “Dead Voices” so far, because soon enough it dies out, leaving you with the remaining tail-end portion. And that portion involves growling. Metal growling. Like “we’re fucking metal, we growl” sort of growling. And it’s accompanied by guitars that are sort of metal. But sort of weak metal. And I sort of don’t know what the hell Von Spar is doing at this point. This is eclectic and unexpected, but not in any sort of preferred way. It’s gruesome, and not worth a lick of salt. Although slightly shorter than “Xaxapoya,” “Dead Voices” finds a way to feel about twice as long.

So what happened, Von Spar? Can anyone explain this giant rift in quality between just two tracks? Press kit is coming in handy again: “Detached from the usual style issues, Von Spar have exorsized [sic] the zeitgeist and overtaken the discourse. There is no scheme. Anything goes.” Man, I don’t know who gets paid to write those, but they’re doing my job for me.
1 .Xaxapoya
2. Dead Voices In The Temple of Error

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