AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: ZPK – Zamia Lehmanni (1986/2019; Cold Spring Records)

The most unexpected and compelling aspect of SPK’s 1986 release of Zamia Lehmanni (subtitled Songs Of Byzantine Flowers) is its sheer breadth of styles. Between tracks, and even within certain tracks, are passages that border on tribal / ambient, industrial, non-Western musics (Middle-Eastern, African, Southeast Asian), sound collages, and various other unclassifiable styles and weird amalgams.

Graeme Revell was the creative force behind SPK, and his work under that name during the 1980’s morphed from industrial to soundtrack in nature. Zamia Lehmanni falls in between these two genres, capturing some of the best aspects of each. This re-release is a fresh mastering with Revell’s approval.

As one example, Romanz in Moll features a grungy industrial beat, synth washes, melancholy improvised piano leads, and haunting vocalizations. In contrast, In The Dying Moments, consists of twisted chants, tribal percussion, and a bass synth line to go therewith. Alocasia Metallica includes non-western rhythmic vocal phrasings over flutes and dense group percussion.

The other remarkable aspect of this album is just how futuristic it ended up sounding. Recorded over 30 years ago, Revell’s ability to fall between and combine established styles in new ways is still being perfected by today’s artists. Zamia Lehmanni was decades ahead of its time in this regard, and would have been a striking release if it were recorded today.

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