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Many albums claim to be genre-defying, but few truly are.  London-based songwriter and film composer, Chris Letcher released his unique and appealing full-length album, ‘Spectroscope’ September 20th, following his debut ‘Frieze’ (2007) and EP ‘Harmonium’ (2008).

Letcher’s songs appeared in the feature film The Bang Bang Club (2010) starring Ryan Phillipe.  He also recently completed the score for a BBC adaptation of the DH Lawrence novel, Women in Love, in addition to scoring a six-part serial drama for Sky1. Other recent film music credits include HOUR, a film made in collaboration with photographer, Tim Wainwright, and My Black Little Heart, made with director Claire Angelique and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours).
Recorded and mixed in London by Finn Eiles (My Bloody Valentine, Jack Penate, Razorlight), ‘Spectroscope’ extends Letcher’s use of abundant orchestration. Bass clarinets, string and brass sections, mbiras and singing saws enfold drum machines and 1970s synthesizers to buttress an album of pop influenced songs.  Letcher’s soundtrack work shines through in the instrumentation on ‘Spectroscope’ — from the lush string section finishing “Seeing Things” to the harp, trombone and French horns that form a musical bed for “Starrrs.”
Named after an apparatus for producing and recording spectra, ‘Spectroscope’ presents each song as a separate “band” on a spectrum.  Beginning with the fun pop sequences of “The Sun! The Sun!” the album then settles into the bluesy ambience of “The Loneliest Air” and thereafter quickens with marching drums in “Twin Fins.”
Letcher’s message is in the tone and tempo of each song, the lyrics acting more as an accompanying instrument than a lead.  You can hear the cosmic lights twinkling in “Starrrs” while the intermittent beats seemingly signify the immensity of the heavens.
Most notable is the universal feel of ‘Spectroscope.’  Just as each person has a particular color preference, this album offers something for each listener.  There is the motivational “Phone Booth” weaving modern day electronica with African folk sounds, followed by the serene meditations of “You Only Had to Point.”
These songs allow you to feel more than think.  You experience fluttering eyelids through the staggering beats of “Sleeping It Off,” and a keen sense of reassurance in the melodic “I’m Here Now.”  “Seeing Things” has you checking for squishy monopods trailing you through an enchanted island.  And the various tempos of “One Died” have you grappling with the conflicting melancholy, perplexity, and contemplation that surround death.

The album that dawns with warm rays of sunshine ends with an all encompassing hum, a swell like a siren invoking mankind to return to his humanity.  “Joined Back to Nature” could easily be a soundtrack for a documentary on man’s ultimate embrace of honesty and simplicity.  Multifaceted and cohesive, ‘Spectroscope’ offers a remarkable song collection.

Rating: 4.5


Free download of “Phone Booth”.

Tour Dates

09.24 • Mile End (London, UK)
10.02 • Plattenkiste (Hamburg, Germany)
10.15 • Delicatessen (Amsterdam, NL)
10.16 • Cafe de Nul (Overijssel, NL)
10.17 • Big Buttinsky (Osnabrück, Germany)
10.18 • Hafen Casino (Bremen, Germany)
10.18 • Radio Leinehertz 106.5 FM (Hannover, Germany)
10.19 • Gig-Linden (Hannover, Germany)
10.19 • Hot Shot Records (Hannover, Germany)
10.19 • Pumpwerk (Wilhelmshaven, Germany)
10.20 • Radio Jade Buhne (Wilhelmshaven, Germany)
10.20 • Images Polestraat (Groningen, Germany)
10.20 • Platform Theater (Groningen, NL)
10.21 • Charity Steps 2 (Bremen, Germany)
10.21 • Tagungshaus Bredbeck (Niedersach, Germany)
10.21 • Radio Weser-TV (Niedersach, Germany)
10.21 • Muddys (Bremen, Germany)
10.22 • 25 Hours Hotel Hafen City (Hamburg, Germany)
10.22 • Radio 112 Hamburg (Hamburg, Germany)
10.22 • Cafe Belvedere (Niedersach, Germany)
10.22 • Balcony TV (Hamburg, Germany)
10.23 • Kerem Kulturkneipe (Delmenhorst, Germany)
10.23 • Fair Cafe (Schortens, Germany)
10.24 • GONDi (Bremen, Germany)
10.25 • LoX (Bremen, Germany)
10.26 • MTS City Sounds (Oldenburg, Germany)
10.26 • Polyester Club (Oldenburg, Germany)
10.27 • Gig-Linden (Hannover, Germany)
10.27 • Radio Weser-TV (Bremen, Germany)
10.27 • Spatz & Wal (Unna, Germany)
10.27 • GONDi (Bremen, Germany)
10.28 • Hot Shot Records (Bremen, Germany)
10.28 • Townside Hostel (Bremen, Germany)
10.29 • Festhalle Neuhaus (Niedersach, Germany)
10.29 • Triangel Musik (Wilhelmshaven, Germany)
10.30 • Katakomben Musikkeller Unplugged (Achim, Germany)
10.30 • Bauernhof und Eisdiele Kaemena (Bremen, Germany)
10.31 • Blooming Bar (Gottingen, Germany)
11.01 • Theatersaal Universität (Bremen, Germany)
11.01 • Astrastube (Hamburg, Germany)
11.01 • Sweet Home Cafe (Hamburg, Germany)
11.02 • Freundlich + Kompetent (Hamburg, Germany)
11.02 • Mobile Blues Club (Hamburg, Germany)
11.03 • Katja’s Villa Kunterbunt (Bremen, Germany)
11.04 • Airport Bremen (Bremen, Germany)
11.05 • River Weser Flea Market (Bremen, Germany)
11.06 • Club Moments (Bremen, Germany)