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Sumerland is composed of the quartet Dorien Campbell (guitar, vocals), David Gibson (bass), Marshall Serna (keyboards) and Enrique Ugalde (drums, guitar, vocals).  After forming in 1997 the band started to write and create music that quickly attracted a local fanbase from their hometown of Portland, Oregon through their powerful and captivating live performances.

The label's website describes the band's name, "Sumerland" as being derived from the "progressive state of consciousness achieved on the way to the afterlife."  Much like this description, the music of Sumerland is a type of uplifting, powerful, genre-crossing mix of ethereal, goth rock and folk.  This mix of captivating music not only in the studio that we hear on their releases, but also through their raw talent and passion is what has earned them their solid fanbase.

Their history for most of us starts with their release of their debut full-length album Sivo on Middle Pillar Presents in 2001.  But even before this album they had self-released a CDEP and contributed to a Middle Pillar Presents compilation.  But Sivo was received amidst a wave of positive press praising their unique and excellent musical style of music blending with Dorien's spellbinding vocals.  While the band has remained active playing a number of live shows, the next studio recording wasn't released until midway through 2006.  Much like the previous release the band continues to create their blend of powerful music on this album that fans will love.  Be sure to check it out as both Gothic Paradise radio shows present music from this and their previous work.



Imaginary Ways - Review

After five years since the release of Sivo, I had nearly given up on hearing anything new from this band.  Every time I would go through my collection to put music on my radio shows I would go through Sivo and wish that I had something new to present the listeners.  But here we have it, finally! And to say that this lives up to everything we've heard from them in the past.  The album takes something of a thematic approach in the track seelction to match with the title of the album Imaginary Ways.  With nine excellent tracks, this album is everything fans have been anxiously waiting for and more.

The album starts off in solid form with "Everything in Motion" which captivates the listener through the powerful percussion providing the pulse that gives life to the powerful vocals and beautiful guitar.  This spellbinding composition somewhat sets the pattern for the tracks on this album, slowly building in intensity much like the ethereal shoegazer bands appearing recently on Projekt Records, utilizing guitars, adding reverb and distortion at times, but overall, increasing the intensity through the percussion, pounding drums and crashing cymbals.  And this opening track does all of this in a piece spanning over seven minutes, so it creates a wonderful introductory and anchoring piece for the album.

As the album progresses, it drifts in and out of the heavenly ethereal sounds like the beginning of "Elfin Girl" which eventually builds up to a powerful climax of guitars and percussion.  Once again "Mermaid" goes through most of the track in this fashion of captivating and uplifting ethereal music and builds to a powerful climax.  But the most ethereal in nature is probably "Colosso" which drifts through a dark ambience yet remains so striking in it's beauty.  The percussion is still present somewhat in between, but doesn't distract at all, in fact it provides something of a nice accent to it all.

The album progresses so evenly and steadily through each mesmerizing piece.  The lyrics match the music well as each compliment the other and provide a fully balanced piece in each selection.  The variations in instrumentation and vocal arrangement make it all interesting to the listener so the album can easily be listened to in it's entirety each time rather than trying to pick and choose one or two tracks.  The power in "So Many Selves" is complimented and offset by the captivating essence of "Out of the Body" and then fully balanced once again through the haunting melodies of "Inana" which present an awesome combination of guitar and a powerful climax that is incredible.  This all leads up to the aptly titled "Happily Ever After", which leaves me feeling almost giddy every time I hear it as the overall "fairyworld" theme comes to life through this composition.  The notable addition of spatial electronic elements definitely compliment the guitars.  Also notable is the absence of any percussion, which is a nice touch with the amount of crashing cymbals in other ethereal works.

And to wrap up the album is the excellent piece "Butterfly Wings" which appeared on the Eclectica Vol. 2 compilation.  Once again the perfect combination of their unique percussion, harmonized guitars and the captivating vocals create another masterpiece with this finale track.  This has long since been a favorite piece of mine since it was first released and listening to it as it fits so well with this album just reinforces the fact that it's just such a great song and a great way to finalize a perfect album.

Rating: 5/5



Website: www.middlepillar.com/sumerland
Label: Middle Pillar Presents

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