Keith Spears’ new EP, inspired by the mysteries of numbers stations, is eerie, atmospheric, and memory-inducing for children of the Cold War. My generation shares a fatalism born of the certainty that we would be nuked out of existence before we saw 30. It’s a strange thing to discover one can harbor nostalgia for such a horror, but 49N 15E evokes a paranoia that is almost sweetly quaint. Remember when we thought the ‘Russkies’ were gonna get us? Remember how we begged both governments to think of the children? Mir na zemle!
It was the worst thing in the world, at the time, but as we’ve learned, it wasn’t the worst thing possible. The overshadowing threat of global annihilation lent a manic edge to every pleasure. Spears’ music takes me back to nights spent in sweaty, dark dance clubs, and the passionate discussions at all-night restaurants that followed. It was possibly the very best time in history to be a moody teenager; the doom and drama were tangible.
I wouldn’t choose to take the world back to that time, or to be 18 again, but I will gladly pop 49N 15E into my ears and take private, gleeful trips back to visit. The record rewards repeated listens, as patterns emerge from seemingly random data. Fittingly, there’s a secret message for the listener to decode. For songs without lyrics, per se, these tracks manage to say quite a lot.
49N 15E is available on iTunes and from CDBaby.
(Full disclosure: Keith Spears is a friend, which earned 49N 15E a preview listen. The music itself earned my purchase, repeated listens, and this recommendation.)