Edition of 200 copies, 180g vinyl, 16-page booklet
The first vinyl release from American artist Sydney Spann, Sending Up A Spiral Of well encapsulates Spann’s body of work thus far. On their music, which reacts to themes of family systems and care work, Sydney writes, “people who have done care work —nannies, sex workers, therapists, nurses— may possess their own musical knowledge, developed over time through particular modes of voicing practiced to achieve a desired outcome in their labor. Attending intimately to these ways of voicing and listening and bringing them into a sound practice could be a way to legitimize a less recognized kind of musical knowledge.”
Sending Up A Spiral Of explores this unarticulated expression through sound and song. The titular piece traces Spann within some quixotic woodland, as if beginning inside of some urban fairy-story. Self-soothing singing quivers under dragging branches, peeling cement and other tactile grit. The work drops into a new proximity half-way through as electronic contours overtake the environment. Sine-tones smolder in a pulsating choreography, perhaps reminiscent of Richard Maxfield’s “Night Music” played at half-speed.
The second section of the record depicts a series of five smaller portraits, expressed (or disguised) as lullabies. An oceanic humming permeates them. “Possession” and “Purposeful Evening” are the most song-like lullabies, with their verse-chorus repetition and melodic simplicity. Innocuous words “baby” and “honey” are encoded with deeper, often painful connotations. Sydney’s voice and vision for this album is ambitious, cloaked in the strains and contradictions of what love means in the nuclear family.
A 16-page artist pamphlet of rubbings, photographs and sheet music accompanies the LP, along with a digital PDF of Spann’s thesis “Sending Up A Spiral Of: A Musical Epistemology Made Through Care Work.”