Formerly known as Alameda 5, Kuba Ziołek's ensemble play fast and loose with dub sweeps and electronic throbs, finds Julian Marszalek

These are confusing times, my friends – up is down, black is white, day is night and any semblance of nuance has given way to absolutes and absolute bollocks. The head is in a constant spin under a constant barrage of misinformation from all directions as the lungs struggle to fill with air while the legs quiver and shake like a drunk trying to find balance on the deck of a listing ship in a storm. That sure is some special mess that we’re all drowning in…

And yet, for all that, making some kind of aural sense out of all this madness is SPECTRA. VOL. 1 by ||ALA|MEDA||, better known among the more eagle eyed of you as Alameda 5. The multi-moniker is pretty apt in this age of confusion and bewilderment, but whatever name you want to hang your hat on, the result remains the same: this is a daring and adventurous album that moves deftly between a variety of influential touchstones to create the circuitous route of a dislocation dance.

Not that we should expect anything less from this endlessly restless and creative Polish ensemble. Led by the redoubtable Kuba Ziołek – a musician whose name appears in tQ with a comforting regularity – on all manner of electronic manipulations and joined by drummer Jacek Buhl, percussionist Rafał Iwański, bassist Piotr Michalski and sonic alchemist Łukasz Jędrzejczak, ||ALA|MEDA|| have built on the foundation of 2019’s stunning Eurodome album to go further out there than ever before.

The foundation of SPECTRA. VOL. 1 is rhythm. Drawing deep from the well of South American and African percussion, every one of the six instrumental tracks that make up the album have less to do with conventional notions of songwriting and all the more with creating pieces that come at the listener from any number of directions while being rooted to particular percussive shapes and dynamics.

As listening experiences go, it can initially be overwhelming but the trick here is to surrender to the sounds and be subconsciously carried away. Why allow yourself to be tied up in knots trying to makes sense of opening track ‘sonicas’? All at once are waves of industrial blows, dub throbs and grand electronic sweeps and you’d have more joy trying to catch freshly popped streamers than focusing on a single element. No, what’s needed here is a re-alignment of focus. By zooming in on the joyful and infectious rhythms, the sounds of the instruments colour each and every one of those beats.

Witness ‘rumor’ wherein the initial effect is akin to standing at the mid-point between several outdoor stages, but once a sense of surrender has been achieved, then the dominant beats create order from the abandon.

As the percussive tour de force of ‘⍺|rosa’ brings this sprawling and ambitious album to a close, there can be little doubt of the benefits of freeing one’s mind to see where the ass will follow.

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