SPK - Zamia Lehmanni (Songs of Byzantine Flowers) [Cold Spring Records - 2019]SPK's Zamia Lehmanni was originally released in 1986 by Side Effects, and gets a gorgeous, modern reissue from Cold Spring Records. Long out of print, this reissue brings back an old, industrial classic to the world and gets SPK back on the mouths of the masses. Showcasing the early stages of what would become his award-winning soundtrack work, Zamia Lehmanni is a timeless piece of lush sound.
Coming as their third release, SPK dropped Zamia Lehmanni and let industrial music move in a new direction. What would now be considered "post-industrial," Zamia allows the tenets of the genre to break free from convention and assemble as desired to form grim and deliberate highlights to the cinematic, sweeping sounds on display. Feeling like a journey across the globe and through all timelines, the ten songs (9 on the LP) incorporate many earthly elemental vibes, both natural and man-made. From the opening composition, "Invocation (To Secular Heresies)," Zamia Lehmanni builds a vast soundscape that revels in its own delights and indulgences, and all are warranted. Grandiose in the best sense, the songs manage to capture both an everyday feeling and something sumptuous and exotic. Tribal elements in "Palms Crossed in Sorrow" keep the listener grounded and in touch with their own reality, This is juxtaposed by tracks like "In the Dying Moments" that have an otherworldly essence. The ability for these two opposing styles to not only exist on the same album, but to so greatly complement each other is testament to SPK's brilliance. The shift in sound is mostly attributed to this being now a solo project for Graeme Revell. Having freedom to do with the sound as he pleased, Zamia Lehmanni was free to go in any (and many) direction. The predecessor to many of one's favorite film soundtracks, this album really does what it wants, does it well, and leaves the listener with a smile.
Feeling both familiar and new, distant but enveloping, earthly but swirling in the skies, Zamia Lehmanni captures many opposing elements and makes them work in harmony. Wonderfully reissued and remastered, Cold Spring do the world a favor by bringing this album back to the forefront. A long way from their first two albums, SPK's Zamia Lehmanni ushered in a new era of cinematic soundscapes that sounds as fresh in 2020 as it did in 1986.Paul Casey