Cold Specks | Winter Solstice

I feel as if the music of Al Spx and I go a ways back. I’ve been listening to her creations for a couple of years now, during her two musical incarnations — beginning as the seemingly biblical moniker Basket of Figs and currently as the James Joyce-borrowed phrase, Cold Specks. I first heard her music on the Canadian music blogs, Slowcoustic and Herohill. Once I heard her voice, I had to search out across the internet for more music. I eventually found her as part of the Yer Bird Aviary records camp of musicians. The record company provided a year of access to its music archives for $20, and it contained a Basket of Figs’ album “Dead Language” featuring six songs, and an alternate version of a track on the compilation, “Folk Music For the End of the World”. But it was certainly the song “Lay Me Down” that floored me the most. Eventually, I got a hold of her via e-mail and talked about music, among other things. I can’t remember ever searching out an artist like this before. But it was my very human motive to place a person with these ethereal songs. Who could possibly sing like this, and write these kind of lyrics? Her songs largely concerned dying. Her vocals were unmistakably her own. The music is soul-searching, organic, and feels culled from the earth itself, dusted with age and old as truth. The lyrics are poetry, a force of nature — grounded and elemental. Of course, we know more about her now. And it’s so good to see her music reaching more ears, spanning the blogosphere, television, and even Jools Holland’s show. Her sound is larger now, often with a full band, and more confident sounding. It’s layered, mysterious, and just as moving as when she sung as if by dim campfire light, off in a forest of dangerous possibilities and apparitions. Listen to a single, “Winter Soltice”, from off her upcoming release, “I Predict A Graceful Expulsion”, out May 21. You can also hear another recently released track, “Blank Maps”, up on soundcloud courtesy of Mute Records. — David D. Robbins Jr.

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