Published Aug 20, 2014In the digital age of music, artists have free reign to craft their own persona and explain their music in their own words. But beware of what you write — those words, and phrases, will often haunt you. Case in point: Canadian "doom soul" artist Cold Specks.
"I'm hoping to kill that one throughout this campaign," Al Spx tells Exclaim! Although the descriptor came from a genuine place of trying to create an accurate label ("There are soul elements and dark elements"), Spx is ready to let it go. In its place? "I'll just leave it to you guys."
It's been two years since Spx released the Polaris Music Prize shortlisted I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, and it's safe to say that Cold Specks has grown beyond her definition of doom soul. Her latest album, Neuroplasticity, arguably still possesses elements that fit, but incorporates so much more. Songs are now flourishing with a bigger sound, filled with horns, more pronounced rhythms and organs, taking the outlines of her previous work and colouring them in.
"I was frustrated with the sonic elements, as well as thematic elements," Spx says of the sparse sounds of I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. "I just wanted to have fun and I think I achieved that with this record."
Another new addition on Neuroplasticity, due out August 26 on Arts & Crafts/Mute, are guest appearances from trumpet player Ambrose Akinmusire and Swans founder Michael Gira, who lends his vocals on the stunning "Exit Plan" and closing number, "A Season of Doubt."
"I was a fan of theirs and they were fans of mine," she says. "Trade-offs are fun."
With collaborations now under her belt, are there any more musicians she'd like to reach out to for future sessions? Without hesitation, her eyes lit up: "Give me Bowie!"
UPDATE: Cold Specks has announced a North American tour in support of Neuroplasticity, and you can see all the dates below, where you'll also find a stream of the new track "A Formal Invitation."
08/23 Brooklyn, NY - Afropunk Festival
11/07 Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
11/08 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
11/09 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
11/11 Decatur, GA - Eddie's Attic
11/12 Nashville, TN - The High Watt
11/14 Dallas, TX - Three Links
11/15 Austin, TX - The Mohawk
11/17 Phoenix, AZ - The Crescent Ballroom
11/19 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo
11/21 San Francisco, CA - Brick & Mortar Music Hall
11/23 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
11/24 Seattle, WA - Barboza
11/25 Vancouver, BC - The Imperial Theatre
11/27 Edmonton, AB - Royal Alberta Museum Theatre
11/28 Calgary, NW - SAIT's Gateway
11/29 Swift Current, SK - Lyric Theatre
11/30 Winnipeg, MB - Park Theatre
12/02 Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
12/03 Chicago, IL - Schubas
12/05 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
12/07 Montreal, QC - La Sala Rossa
Read more from our recent interview with Spx here.