Written by Johnny Papan
UNLIKELY DUO CREATE SURREAL RECORD MEANT TO BE “UNLISTENABLE”
Most musicians aim to write songs that people will like. Multi-instrumentalist Chris van der Laan, who has a history of being creatively off-kilter, seems to be bored with the notion. Thus, Shame Spiral was born.
Shame Spiral’s debut record Dictaphone Future is a brooding listen. It feels like the type of music you’d loop for hours after dosing someone with L.S.D., a torturous technique used to brainwash them into your cult. Despite van der Laan’s desire to make an “unlistenable” record “just for himself”, Dictaphone Future does have hauntingly bizarre artistry to it. It’s less a musical album and more an experimental audio portrait.
“At first, when I listened to the album I thought: ‘what the fuck is this?’” says Vancouver’s beloved Russian Tim Bogdachev, who laid vocals on the record.
Bogdachev was recruited for Shame Spiral after van der Laan saw his main act, the punk rock supergroup Russian Tim and Pavel Bures, perform live. The album also features other members of the Vancouver music scene including Glenn Alderson (NEEDS), Eric Axen (Sightlines, Soft Fossil), Dann Tompkins (Heavy Steps), Tom Hillifer (Idle Rites), Ryan Wagner (Total Shock) and Andrew Candela (Death Talks).
“The challenge of doing music out of my comfort zone attracts me,” Bogdachev continues. “With Dictaphone Future I had to do things that I never did before. I have to jump into the unknown to make my repertoire broader. I listened more and separated dirty sound from the melodies. The overall sound of the record dictated my belligerent singing.”
Whereas most people are used to seeing Bogdachev energized and upbeat, Dictaphone Future turns him into a dreary, agonized ghost of himself. When listening to the record, Bogdachev admits he sees visuals of “a damp single-person stone jail cell with dripping condensation” and “a small cramped kitchen in a Russian communal apartment of the early 20th century.” He claims using lyrical content from the Silver Age of Russian Poetry helps inspire the latter.
“We get it, Dictaphone Future is a weird, esoteric, lo-fi record. We're not aiming to change the world here,” Bogdachev concludes. “We perfectly understand that to some ears it's total cacophony, and that's cool, we kinda wanted it like this. The goal was to create a strange dictaphone record and have fun. We're confident that we succeeded at that.”
Dictaphone Future is out now.