By Neil Jendon

SPK is an exceptional band. They have been producing music with intelligence and emotion for ten years. Their music also happens to be very danceable.

This trio from Belgium pioneered the use of cling-klang-boom industrial sounds now commonplace in pop music. Ten years later, they still do it better than anyone.

Gold and Poison, SPK’s 1988 release, is a refreshing album. It is not perfect, but it has a lot of good stuff to hold the listener’s interest.

The first side is filled with raucous, sexy dance tracks that beat so hard they could put Prince and Samantha Fox on crutches.

The best of these songs is “Sheer Naked Aggression.” Lead singer Graeme Revell’s voice sounds off like a drill seargant, loudly asking us to think twice when we strap our guns on.

The opening track is a red-hot dance thing called “Breathless.” It moves with the energy of a factory fire.

The second side is quite a departure. The dance beats are traded in for more sensuous rhythms. The music is quieter and almost too easy to ignore, but it gets better with each listen.

“White Island” is the highlight of the second side. It is a beautiful song. All the instrumentation is electronic, but it does not sound cold and mechanical.

The music has a warm, breathy quality that perfectly compliments female vocalist Sinan’s chilling voice. At first it seems like just a pretty song; when it’s over it’s cool and sinister.

“Palms Crossed in Sorrow” starts with beauty and ends with anger. Sinan sings with pure feeling. The lyrics are in Japanese, but the emotions come through the music and inflections of her voice.

The difference between the two sides of the record reflects the two personalities of the band. On one hand, they make formula songs that are easy to dance to and easy to understand. The first side is seamless, initially very exciting and could easily get boring.

The second side is very experimental. Instead of being consistent, the emotion and mood of the songs change and evolve.

Some of it is actually kind of irritating, but the majority of it is strong and compelling. It is filled with mystery that at first seems disturbing, but it grows and becomes more personal with each listen.

The strongest part of this record is not in any particular song or in the style of the band. It’s strength is in the challenge that SPK takes on by presenting a record that is at once thoughtful and listenable.