At first glance, the new release by Calgary’s Bent Spoon Duo might appear to evoke the name of the king of the underworld. Though there’s no “n” in the title’s first word, Price of Darkness is still a dark cassette that sounds like Bent Spoon Duo members Chris Dadge and Scott Munro are roaming around a pitch black basement tripping over piles of stacked kitchenware and rusty gardening equipment, frantically searching for a light switch.
Released by Buffalo’s House of Alchemy label, this cassette contains an “A” and a “B” side, both loaded with organic tape hiss and creaky string-scraping. Noises fall in and out with no discernible shape, but its all part of Bent Spoon Duo’s caustic creativity. Take the clamoring meltdown about 10 minutes into side “A” where a jumbled motor of string-drag becomes a series of rabid animal growls. All the while, a woozy synth pattern lurks behind, keeping the song from spiraling out of control. It’s a brave game to play, and Bent Spoon Duo plays it well.
Side “B” follows suit with its rolling tape sound and collection of things that go bump in the night. But “B” dares to explore the possibility of expansion through a series of melodic false starts. The synthetic motor spins on, dragging along the action, and the basement monster comes back to life with a series of high-pitched cries.
To use inorganic means to create organic sounds—now there’s a challenge. But Bent Spoon Duo finds the means to accomplish that through a twisted symphony of electronic feedback and string abuse. While Price of Darkness could double as creepy Halloween music, it’s not that shallow. Its 31 minutes contain all the gnarled shadows of your own mind, and you might come to believe that Bent Spoon Duo knows your own nightmares far deeper than you do.
It’s the crooked joy of possibility—and its jolting ending—that make Price of Darkness a fresh listen. Like tripping through that dark basement, the joy here lies in the discovery of something you had no idea was there.
Review by Patrick Hosken