New Spell’s “Of Time – Part II” Casts a Spell with Its Intricate, Dark Dream-Pop

2 Oct

New Spell is a San Francisco-based duo known for dark, dynamic, cerebral dream-pop. The pair’s music is intricately layered, with multifaceted textures from synth-centered soundscapes to complex rhythms and crystalline vocals.

Singer-songwriter and keyboardist, Leanne Kelly, serves as the unifying force behind the duo’s sound. Jacob Frautschi handles the drumming and producer, Max Savage, also contributed to the latest release with additional synths, guitar, piano, ukulele, and glockenspiel as needed on the tracks. Other guest artists contributed performances to the EP as well.

Of Time – Part II is the follow-up to New Spell’s Of Time – Part I, released in 2017. Both collections demonstrate Kelly’s skill in creating vivid worlds and telling stories through her music and lyrics — with soaring vocals and powerful keyboards. This is not your typical synth-pop — it washes over you — immersing you in the experience, while touching you with lyrics that examine what it means to be human.

Track highlights:The first song on the EP is stunning. “You Win” explores the role of honesty in a relationship, with the repeated phrase, “And so, lies, you win.” Kelly’s voice over the swirling, swelling keyboards is strong and piercing, buoyed by Frautschi’s urgent, tumbling drumming.

Track 2, “Like Water,” is more pensive and moody — with reassuring synth strings and Kelly’s doubled vocals. The brief lead break is intriguing, almost jazzy, mixing synth arpeggios with crisp drumming.

The last of the four songs on the EP is the title track. “Of Time” is set in 3/4 time, dancing and floating along with the help of a toy piano, strummed guitar, brushes on drums, and Kelly’s wistful vocals. It’s fragile and uplifting as it examines our relationship with the passage of time.

Kelly has also included acoustic versions of two of the compositions, “Of Time” and “Like Water,” on the EP. This is another strong release from a Bay Area band that you may not be familiar with.

 

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