Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Jon Ashley at Echo Mountain Studio, Asheville, NC
It's reasonable to assume that Al Spx, or Cold Specks, has been through some things that she wishes she hadn't ever been through. They're just too much to deal with and yet she has no choice. It's a real curse - cognizance and retention. The way we remember everything about the things that hurt us is in stark contrast to how little we tend to remember about those days when we were our happiest. Hell, people remember exactly where they were when they found out that John F. Kennedy had been shot or when they saw the Challenger space shuttle blow up, but rarely are memories of the best surprises or the greatest joys as vividly recorded and recalled years later.
Cold Specks songs are exactly that - the cold remains of some very painful moments and revelations - that she's chosen to reheat and serve again, with notations and additional insight. They come back around this time as the stained events that have marred her for awhile, though she's still held onto them, meaning that the marks and the scars that they left were at least influential. Spx is wonderfully suited to tell these tales, to make them feel as if they've given her new life. They are still - whether she likes it or not - of her and from her. They're oddly enough, parts that couldn't just be chucked. If I ever had to lose an appendage because a cancerous tumor had decided to root itself in and start growing, I'd still want to keep the thing. I'd find a way to freeze it because, even if it had been killing me, the thought of throwing that arm or leg away seems unconscionable. We keep the hurt because we can use it for something later, when we'd learned better what we want to learn. Spx thinks of herself as a "collection of memories," at one point on this session, and that makes her an archivist, protecting them all, even singing, "Words may fall/The body remains." Within that body is everything. It weighs a million pounds, sloshing with cancers benign and malignant. Noel Coward wrote a poem called, "Nothing Is Lost," about memories and it suggests that we don't understand the "implications of our wonderland." It goes on, speaking about the memories we hold:
"There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night."
Spx predicts "a graceful expulsion," but just wants that body to be taken home, filled with everything. It can rest then.
Cold Specks Official Site