The very first thing I heard about Portland, Oregon-based electronica act Spirituals was that they were based in Portland. As some of my favorite indie-rock and indie-folk bands call Portland their home, an idea of what they might sound like immediately materialized in my brain. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the electronic mash of Spirituals’ new self-titled debut album.
Spirituals is the brainchild of Tyler Tadlock, who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. Tadlock began recording and manipulating sound samples taken from local free jazz groups that played around his hometown. When he relocated to Portland, he started combining these sounds into songs.
Perhaps this song, “Every Head Bowed, Every Eye Closed,” isn’t the most representative of Spirituals’ first full length; but really no song on the album is. Because each is built from random sound snippets — of a type of music that is already random to begin with — they can’t help but sound a bit disjointed. But they certainly stand up pretty well within themselves, and “Every Head Bowed” is a case in point.
Tadlock starts with foreboding guitar riffs, then layers on a few flashy drum fills, followed by a steady stream of additional samples: a drum machine, a plucky keyboard line, a few horn blares, the occasional cymbal crash. The resulting mash is intriguing enough to block out everything around you. When he throws in a droney chant toward the end of the song, you’re too zoned out to notice. You’re head may be bowed. In fact, the whole experience is so exhausting that you’re eyes are probably closed.
Spirituals, “Every Head Bowed, Every Eye Closed” (Spirituals, Waaga Records)
Spirituals’ self-titled debut is available now on Waaga Records.