Holding court at New World before the RNC invasion is King of Spain, the local atmospheric pop act and former solo project of musician Matt Slate, who, from his project’s start, delivered a sound much bigger and fuller than you’d expect from just one guy. Slate relinquished some creative control in 2009 when he invited bassist/songwriter Daniel Wainright (of experimental pop act Spacious International) to join him.
The duo is currently gearing up for an Eastern U.S. tour and release of the new LP, All I Did Was Tell Them the Truth and They Thought It Was Hell, due out Aug. 28 via New Granada Records.
The album was recorded with expert precision by Mark Nicolich at Atomic Audio, and Fuma Bella’s Charlie Doan contributed the cover art (past artists included dearly departed friend Oscar Beauchamp). In the stunning illustration, Doan depicts Slate morphed with one of those queens painted by a Spanish master, pieced together with squares and a touch of abstract flair.
Having evolved as an integral part of the outfit, guitarist Wainright adds a special glint, building on darker, and at times, tribal atmospherics cobbled via loops and echo chamber-like vocal effects. The cadence of the tune “Motions” recalls “Human Being” by The Beta Band, another repetitively meditative pop band. The King of Spain track deals with the patterns of everyday tasks and behaviors that keep us from being in the moment. A hoped-for outcome might be They Thought It Was Hell’s uncanny balance of design and discovery, which supersedes its artsy trappings with more infectiousness than in past outings.
Critic’s rating: 4 stars out of 5
Pick up a copy when King of Spain plays an official CD release show with Sleepy Vikings and Beach Day on Sat., Aug. 25, 9 p.m., at New World Brewery, Ybor; tickets are $8.