40 Years Of Spoons “Arias + Symphonies” Demands Close Inspection of Canada’s Best Album [part 3]

spoons monktone
Spoons L-R: Derrick Ross, Rob Preuss, Sandy Horne, Gordon Deppe

[…continued from last post]

“One In Ten Words” was an effervescent blend of synths with the Jupiter IV’s arpeggiator getting plenty of use in adding melodic filigree throughout this song, and as we’ll hear, the album to come. A rhythm loop from the 808 began the song while a delirious monosynth rondo spiraled upward through the airy edifice of the song. The rhythms kept the pace brisk and always moving forward as Sandy Horne took the lead vocal this time, with her soprano vocals vibrato echoed in the tremolo synth leads from Preuss. Deppe eventually joined her mixed lower in the second verse of this song examining the difficulty of actually communicating. Then, for the chorus, producer John Punter moved Deppe’s slider up in the mix to lead vocal position as Sandy was gone.

Deppe’s tremolo drenched guitar and tattoos of Derrick Ross’ drums really bit into the middle eight with some aggression to match the brisk tempo of the number. With Deppe’s solo in the instrumental half leaving the tremolo behind for the toughest tone yet in this deceptively frothy song. A repeat of the middle eight verse verse as sung by Deppe was the coda as the track suddenly evaporated with only a few plaintive synth lines echoing in the fade like birdsong.

Ticking hi-hats from the 808 began “No Electrons,” oscillating widely from the left to right channel in an echo of Moroder’s use of delay on “I Feel Love.” Only this was juxtaposed against Deppe’s jangling guitar with the lightest of cymbals before a descending drum fill got the song off the starting block. The motorik drum machine jolted the song up and got it moving in the manner to which we had become accustomed. Deppe’s vocal was poised and matter of fact, but the largely oblique lyrics resisted analysis, and I was a physics student throughout school. Ms. Horne joined in on the chorus while Preuss’ glassy synth pads mirrored Deppe’s vocal melody and almost seem like an effect on them instead of synths.

Depp’s fast guitar picking kicked off “No More Growing Up” with the coiled tension of a snake striking in advance of the drum machine joining soon afterward at breakneck tempo once again. This album seemed to be all about velocity, with quicksilver machine rhythms greasing the rails on most of the songs here. Ironically, the lyric concerned children undergoing stasis to stop maturing even as the music barreled forward at high velocity; at least until the cold ending where the song stopped abruptly as if hitting a brick wall. With only the reverb on Preuss’ synths stuttering and fading into nothingness.

spoons arias and symphonies cover art
Ready Records | CAN | 7″ | 1982 | SR 271

The title track began with a looping guitar rondo locked in stasis with the loping rhythm of the song as the bass line oscillated to and fro. The drum machine pumping its steel heart out as synthetic cymbal hits chattered like the frantic ticking of a clock at deadline. As the synths joined in the song began moving forward as the wail of the synths was echoed with the BVs from Ms. Horne. Meanwhile glorious, heraldic synths referenced the grandiosity of the Classical music that the song dealt with.

Scene of 500 boys playing an infinite piano from “The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T” 1953

The slipstreaming instrumental middle eight featured the synth arpeggios intrinsic to this album along side a taut Deppe guitar solo. Climaxing in a delirious whirlwind of energy with the melodramatic piano of Rob Preuss having the last word with a bold quote from Kate Bush’s “Babooshka!” We’ll hear more on that surprising issue later when we follow up this review with an interview with Mr. Preuss.

The lyric was a fascinating psychodrama of rigid control as viewed through a frame of Classical music. For 40 years this song has reminded me of the surreal 1953 movie written by Ted Geisel [a.k.a. Dr. Seuss] “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” Where a dominating music teacher makes little boys play his infinite piano…forever. This song, as well as the preceding one, showed that obtaining that psychology degree didn’t exactly hurt Mr. Deppe’s ability to write unique and vivid songs like this one. And Canadians must have also agreed as this single reached the heights of number 18 in the Canadian Top 40.

Next: …Going Nova

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to 40 Years Of Spoons “Arias + Symphonies” Demands Close Inspection of Canada’s Best Album [part 3]

  1. the RAHB! says:

    Thoroughly enjoying this series on yet another massively undervalued synth “invasion” band. (Remember that Canadians are foreigners too, to most right-thinking Americans anyway!)

    Just to throw it out there – since you’ve already covered Romanelli, and are doing the current loving and in-depth tribute to the Spoons – a relevant touch-stone from the same period and musical gene-pool can be found in “White Door”s album “Windows”, which while a year younger (1983) is of a piece, at least in my mind, with the fine efforts mentioned above :)

    xo
    the RAHB!

    Like

  2. the RAHB! says:

    Damn it, late to the party as always. Looks like you covered White Door back in 2009 :-/ Good on yah!

    Like

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