|Lights That Change|
Hailing from Northern Wales in the UK, this project is relatively new to many people around the world though founder Marc Joy has been creating and producing music for several years. The band is currently composed of band members Marc (guitars, bass, etc), Mandy Clare (vocals), John Bryan (bass guitar) and Mal Homes (programming). These talented artists have created a spellbinding combination of ethereal wave, dream-pop and shoegaze music that is absolutely mesmerizing. Most of their music has been released as short EPs and singles over bandcamp and other media. These collections gave us a great catalog of their excellent music which built up the anticipation of their first official full-length album in 2016 Byzantium. Besides writing and producing these selections for our enjoyment, the band can be seen live around Europe. With these accomplishments it seems we'll be seeing and hearing more from this band and we really look forward to a long and successful career.
Byzantium - Review
Here it is, finally, after all this time and all the previous releases we now have the first official full-length debut album from this band. To say that this is anything less than spectacular doesn't do it justice. These talented artists have brought together eleven magnificent tracks from the best of the dream-pop and ethereal wave genres.
While there has been a plethora of post-punk and shoegaze revival bands surfacing in recent years, this is one that really captures the sound and era of the more gothic-tinged elements of the late 80's and 90's and is more of a staple in the ethereal wave genre, and would feel at home with the old Hyperium label where I first fell in love with "Heavenly Voices". This album is rich with these beautiful gems from the very first angelic vocals of "Constantinople" to the grooving hooks of "Voices" and on to the ambient soundscapes of "Ihsan". For those wanting to hear a bit more of the shoegaze "sparkle" in their music we have a few treats and selections here that are bound to please as well. However, overall it's the celestial ethereal sounds that remain dominant throughout.
The entire album plays well as a whole, it flows softly from one piece to another across the heavenly soundwaves. Mandy's vocals are the siren-song for this album, luring in the listener and holding them mesmerized and hooked while the shimmering guitars and subtle layers envelop you. However, several tracks stand well on their own and have become favorites for us and our listeners. "Voices" is an obvious favorite, it really stands out against most of the rest of the album with more of a moving rhythm and the catchy hooks. "Golden City" captures more of the shoegaze elements while still maintaining much of the darker gothic feeling with the heavy percussion backing the shimmering guitars. "Union (For Louise)" is another that also shines with the varied shoegaze elements and much of the new wave sound while the title track also shines as it delves heavily into the angelic ethereal soundscapes. This diversity and variety is great, yet all of the tracks are very cohesive and if you're familiar with all of their releases, you can get that feeling of how each track really belongs on this album more than maybe other selections.
There is so much great material on this album. Each time I listen I'm treated with some small new gem that I missed before while those that immediately jumped out as favorites still remain so. While they may not stand out as the most innovative band amongst these genres, they stick to the solid foundation that fans should really love and hopefully weed through all the others to find this great treasure.
Dark Narrows - Review
As the band continues to work toward their first official full-length album, we're presented with another short teaser in the form of this six-track EP. This short little collection of tracks presents us with another few gems that stand out with the rest of their discography. Fans are once again presented with a slightly different direction with some of the music here as the band continues their diverse journey through a broad range of shoegaze, new wave and dreampop sounds.
The title track has really grown on me over the last few weeks as we've presented it to our listeners including as part of top 10 playlists. While they keep that solid foundation in the ethereal shoegaze genres, this piece takes a dark and haunting turn while remaining upbeat and moving for just a touch of goth that the darker-clad fans should really enjoy. This gives way to "All That Matters" which really takes a trip back to the 4AD era of Cocteau Twins and The Smiths with their playful, yet angelic mix of vocals, moving beat and guitars with plenty of reverb to go around. As with previous releases, we once again see the band pick a classic track to cover in the form of OMD's "Souvenir". The band's post-punk, lush guitar driven take on this classic electronic new wave track is a great and memorable version we've definitely been enjoying here on Gothic Paradise. This brings us to another driving and upbeat post-punk and alt-80's shoegaze piece "Driver" that just illustrates the diverse sounds from this band. The dreamy moods and spellbinding vocals create a beautiful tapestry of music that fans can just eat up. This leads us next to the experimental noise piece simply titled "No Name..." that lasts a good six minutes with just a moving percussion and layers of distorted guitar and other sounds. Maybe fans of Lovesliescrushing or similar artists will enjoy this, but you definitely have to be in the mood to sit and listen. The EP closes with a "Radio Edit" of the title track which trims it down a bit from the original, but otherwise sounds pretty much the same as the original.
In summary, this is another great addition to their ever-growing discography as we anxiously await their first official full-length album. The catchy hooks and melodies on their signature mix of classic ethereal shoegaze and dreampop sounds are a new personal favorite amongst the music currently released today.
Various Tracks - Review
I normally don't do reviews of singles and try to focus on full-length albums as it takes a lot of effort to pull something meaningful together and albums are really more cohesive than one-offs. So when I was first introduced to this band with their single "Voices", though I was blown away by it, I decided to give it plenty of airplay and some social media promotion, but it's hard to justify pulling together an artist page for a single track. As I worked with the label and PR management I was presented with their previous few EP's and also latest singles and so I've pulled together this review of this nice collection of tracks. I'll touch on favorites over the past couple of years and try to present something meaningful so that the reader can game some insight into this band and their beautiful music.
I'll start off with the earliest of these releases with the three-track EP Whispers in February. Across these three tracks we're given a beautiful, dreamy piece with heavenly vocals and spellbinding ethereal wave music backing it all. "Whispers in February" includes soft and somber moods with ambient soundscapes and subtle percussion backing the heavenly vocals and shimmering guitar. We're also presented with a nice remix done by Malcolm Holmes from OMD with a bit of electronica and trip-hop touch to it for a nice twist on the original. The "bonus" track on this album is appropriately named as a beautiful piece with siren-like vocals over soft and dreamy layers of ethereal soundscapes. This one immediately grabbed my attention and was immediately featured on our ethereal mix radio show for listeners to enjoy.
Over the course of their next few released tracks and EP's we get a combination of solid ethereal dream wave mixed with a few experimental shoegaze pieces. The two tracks on the Beautiful Soul single stand out as stellar pieces not only among their own tracks but among the latest shoegaze and dream-pop music of the past few years. The title track is excellent with it's trip-hop elements mixed with the heavy shoegaze reverb all carried by the angel-like vocals, definitely hearkening back to some of the best from The Cocteau Twins. "Running" flows well with this piece as a solid dream-pop track with layers of guitar and bass accented by a mix of excellent percussion to move the piece along nicely. As we get into their self-titled EP, we have a real gem with "Theme 1 Stage 3" carrying on this solid dreampop and shoegaze style. The other two tracks on this short EP are instrumental tracks that delve into a bit of an experimental flare.
As we move further through their releases and discography we come to the track "Toxic" on their Rainbow on Your Shoulder EP. On this excellent piece we see the band bring out the rare heavy, moving beat to back their heavily reverbed sound, emphasizing a bit of the "pop" in dream-pop and creating a very accessible and fun piece. They've also created a clever video for this track featuring a young woman walking around town smoking a cigarette, giving some great meaning to the lyrics and chorus "Your love is toxic". "Happy Space" keeps the music upbeat with a style more along the lines of "Beautiful Soul" with a bit of a trip-hop rhythm but keeping the sonic dreamscapes prominent.
At this point we're brought to the three latest singles this band has released that have been absolutely spell-binding. Starting with "Voices", this haunting piece absolutely grabbed my attention and held me captive. I had to sit and listen to it over and over again and immediately included it on our radio shows, then I found the video and added it to our video playlist. Every time I hear it I still am held entranced by this track. It features a smooth, syncopated rhythm which backs the solid bass and layers of guitar reverb creating a beautiful sonic tapestry to back the beautiful vocals. "Starlight" was released a few months later and for me was a great fix after longing for more greatness after being hooked by the drug that is "Voices". I wasn't disappointed, while this isn't upbeat or haunting, it's more of an ethereal piece with a somber feel. The latest treat from this band actually came in the form of a free download for Christmas. It takes a lot of guts to cover certain tracks, some of which are classics whether covered before by others or not. So it is with Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" which many fans of the gothic genres may be familiar with the cover done by This Mortal Coil. The end result is an absolutely lovely track with certain elements hearkening back to the original while definitely presented in the modern, captivating style we've grown to love from this band. This is definitely a new favorite and highlight for us here on Gothic Paradise and for this band.
So there you have it, a great collection of stellar tracks that any fans of old 4AD, dreampop, ethereal shoegaze or related genres can really enjoy. Head on over to bandcamp and buy the full discography, it's well worth it for this collection of gems.