Kaleidophonica is the follow-up to Spiro's much-praised Real World album Lightbox, but it's different, says mandolin-player Alex Vann because "we've pushed the ideas and the systems music further". Jane Harbour, Spiro's violinist, argues that "we've taken the most intricate bits of Lightbox and taken the whole mesh to a higher level. And if it sounds as if there are more than four of us playing, it's because much of the time people are playing more than one part at the same time. We try to play two lines on one instrument quite a lot, so at some points there might be eight lines going on...."
Spiro are virtuoso musicians, but there's energy as well as craftsmanship to their playing - and they are eager to point out that in their music, riffs are as important as tunes. When asked to explain how it all works, they talk in much the same way that they play, with one member of the band starting a sentence, and the others developing the idea. "The riffs are enmeshed and equal", said Jane, to which guitarist Jon Hunt added "a tune has the same status as a riff, they just become one of the team", and Alex finished the explanation off by adding "there's not one dominant top line, which is how folk tunes are usually played, but it's enmeshed with the riffs ...so you hear the tune, then it can disappear, and bits of it can re-emerge, or get shattered and broken up into pieces, or scattered around the arrangement, or re-appear like ghosts".
It goes without saying that unconventional music like this is created in an unconventional way. All four band members contribute to the process, by suggesting either riffs or tunes, and these are given names "depending on the way they make us feel". They then start mixing the riffs and themes together, said Alex "so it's like two people meeting and having a conversation, and that might spawn something interesting, and then someone else joins in the conversation and that starts to generate new ideas....".