In Hell is about the horrors of everyday life both individual and collective. Its lyrical themes modulate between abstract and deeply personal, drawing inspiration from historical and present-day terrors. Yet this release is also suffused with vignettes of ephemeral beauty and liberation. All the tunes were first written and arranged part by part in Ableton Live by guitarist Cam Cunningham and then brought to life by the whole band. The music itself is a collection of jazzy and experimental songs in the vein of Hiatus Kaiyote or Meshell Ndegeocello, framed by Brianna Tong and Eric Novak's vocals and driven by a rhythm section comprised of bassist Khalyle Hagood, keyboardist Zach Bain-Selbo, and drummer Zach Upton-Davis. These songs retain the evolving and adaptive forms, explosive improvisations, and odd-time grooves of Cordoba's earlier work and are reminiscent of artists DOMi & J.D. Beck or Radiohead.
Specter is motivated by a deep-seated feeling that the fabric of society is quickly unravelling, and these songs react to issues like gentrification, police brutality, and escalating social unrest. Specter also reflects on feelings of isolation and anxiety that have only been amplified in this time of pandemic. This record is characterized by the band’s typical off-kilter grooves, nuanced arrangements, and vocal versatility, this time incorporating performances from KAIA String Quartet and a cast of local jazz musicians.