Release Date: Jun 2, 2017
Record label: Tough Love
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Ulrika Spacek's noisy art-rock is artsier than most, dreamt up and recorded in a converted art gallery kenned lovingly as ‘KEN', a space that also acts as a house and hub in which the band create their artwork, videos and photography. Said sleeves, promo clips and press shots are all presented in stark, moody monochrome; if their records aren't pressed on blacker-than-black vinyl then they’re on limited-edition white. One doesn't have to be a synesthesiac to identify their psychedelia as being of the colourless variety: the bad-trip psychedelia of white noise and black humour; whites-of-your-eyes intensity and blackouts.
East London's Ulrika Spacek have typified the strong-yet-often-overlooked DIY scene in the nation's capital. While the rest of the UK's major musical cities (Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham etc.) possess a fierce DIY ethic - probably due to their overshadowing by London - it is often forgotten that the Big Smoke has some equally excellent underground music out there. Across London's various zone 2 and 3 boroughs, there are bands and creatives working tirelessly to do what they love in one of the world's most expensive cities.
Operating from an east London gallery-turned-house, Ulrika Spacek observe an impressive work ethic. Formed by friends Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams in Berlin, the quintet stage regular gig nights at a Dalston joint, where they also exhibit artists' work. Just 16 no-nonsense months after their debut, Modern English Decoration upholds Ulrika's art-rock and post-punk principles in its industrious methodologies and taut delivery, staking out turf adjacent to fellow underground-dwellers Teeth Of The Sea or 65daysofstatic.
Ulrika Spacek's second album very much builds on the premise of their debut. What we have here is an art-rock band who wear the influence of Television on their sleeves but who are unafraid to range from Slowdive-y ethereality across Black Angels-style rock to a light psychedelia that at times reminds of both Syd Barrett and The Shins (although we suspect they wouldn't like that last comparison). Kicking off with single Mimi Pretend - a good interplay of synth and drums builds to a meaty bit of riffage and nice hazy vocals that pitch their tent within shouting distance of shoegaze - this is an album you sense is meant to be viewed as a cohesive whole.
DISCLAIMER - nothing that you will hear in London purveyors of swirling guitar ephemera Ulrika Spacek's new album will be new to you. In fact, you probably will have heard many varying shades of the iridescent clamour that mirrors the ten tracks burning opaquely on Modern English Decoration elsewhere. But there is an inherent sun-down haze that permeates these tracks, complemented by the Victorian-era locale in which the album was recorded, that makes this an album that is difficult to shake, the skin-deep ethereal warmth seeping deeper, taking root, refusing to let go.