With origins tracing back to the mid 1990s this trio bring to light some very thoughtful and experimental music in our already eclectic scene. Consisting of members Alex Reed (vocals, keyboards, guitars, programming samples), Aaron Fuleki (percussion, programming, samples, guitars, backing vocals) and Jeremy David Long (guitars, backing vocals, piano, keyboards, programming), they have managed to start from humble beginnings and rise to receive great credit for their releases and performances. They originally signed to ADSR Musicwerks for the release of their debut album in early 2000 with many positive reviews. Their music progressed tremendously with the outstanding sophomore release of The Holiness of Now with the hits "Last Comfort" and "Without Faith" receiving club and college radio play all over the country. They have also done a few tours and have received excellent reviews for their energetic performances. Most recently they have released two new albums on the Dancing Ferret Discs label titled The White Beyond and Land Dispute taking their sound further into the experimental realms while maintaining their same thoughtful ideas and emotions as the basis for the music.
For those not yet familiar with this group, they are very hard to describe with simple genre references. I think generally they fit nicely in a crossover Gothic/Industrial group with many classic synthpop influences and classical music foundations. All of these combine together with a heavy experimental edge, usually in the percussion blending classical piano pieces with powerful drums or breakbeats. Then you add the deep and pensive lyrics and vocals to this collage of music and you truly have something that at times is simply breathtaking and amazing.
While many electronic music fans can enjoy their second album for it's straightforward style that is quite accessible and dance-friendly, their first and latest albums are more on the experimental edge, and so you have to approach it with an open mind. This group has been a part of Gothic Paradise for quite some time and so you will always find something of theirs playing somewhere on one of the radio shows. Enjoy!
Land Dispute - Review
This band just continues to work hard to bring us great new music while continuing to experiment in new trends, music styles and so forth, they still remain uniquely recognizable on this, their fourth full-length album. Like their previous work they have progressed further away from the industrial and electronic roots using more guitar and acoustic elements especially evident in the first two tracks, yet really maintaining the overwhelming percussion, also very apparent in these first couple of pieces. Also like their previous album, the more I listen to this disc, the more it grows on me as the meaning of the lyrics come out more clearly, the catchy hooks become more familiar and as I get used to the shift in experimentation, it all starts to pull together nicely.
After the initial shock of "When I Crash" and "Walk Away" with their over the top guitars and drums, we drift off slightly into more accessible sounds of "Craling Deeper" and a quick favorite of mine "Oh Invisible" with it's steady beat, subtle bass and additional electronic guitar somewhere along the lines of what you might hear Johnny Marr play. A common thread it seems every piece has that takes them over the top is the extremely emotional element, sometimes angry, sometimes angst-filled and others just full of plain desperation. This becomes very apparent in the cracking vocals on several pieces. This underlying emotional, angst-ridden mood becomes a real strength and anchor for the album and has helped it all to grow on the listener.
As the album moves along there are so many that stand out. Of course you can always expect the deep, very meaningful lyrics that usually present on most of their works, but they do also have a sense of humor, although it's not really evident except possibly in their cabaret-oriented piece "True Love". But "All That's Left" portrays so well how deep these lyrics and the overall feeling of their music can go with the captivating piano providing the backdrop. This same awesome feeling is portrayed incredibly well not only in this piece, but as the album wraps up in "Let Your Silence Sing" and then as the finale to the addendum "Reborn" does it again. Each of these pieces are new great acoustic piano pieces that ethereal fans should really catch on to, I know they've quickly become favorites of mine from this album.
With 15 total tracks, this is another great album from this band with many powerful pieces that people should really love. Like their previous works there is a lot of percussion and various elements that border on the experimental, but I think overall this should attract new fans and should please those that are already familiar with their past works.
The White Beyond - Review
After the very well-received album The Holiness Of Now, I think many people have been looking forward to this latest release from this group for some time. Many fans may have caught their first glimpse in live performances, special tracks on mp3.com or possibly the inclusion of "Cardinal Directions" on the Asleep By Dawn #1 compilation. Whatever the case may be, I doubt many people were prepared for the interesting combination of music on this disc. I'm sure some will see this in a positive light, while others will see it as too strange or hard to sit and listen to. In either case, it truly is an eclectic taste of combinations of classical music and an onslaught of percussion in a myriad of fashions.
Inside of You, In Spite of You kicks the album off with what turns out to be a template for the entire album. Lyrics that go beyond just a superficial idea delve into different issues carved into songs through classical piano loops and a simple beat and electronic structures. Cardinal Directions take this a little bit further with an almost comical synth loop starting off the track that breaks down into powerful drum beats. But this track is anything but comical, leading into a more accessible and moving track along the lines of their previous tracks on The Holiness of Now. Another nice inclusion on this disc along these more accessible and danceable lines are The Ocean Is Your Voice and Glaciers. Both of these ride the wave of a more standard synthpop song with moving beats and layered synths with intelligent lyrics.
While some of the other remaining songs on this disc dont stray much from this more pop-oriented electronic style, the majority strays into the eclectic combination of percussion and classical piano pieces. Come A Time uses vocoded vocals, layered electronics and breakbeats to portray its message while We Could Have Flown Like Pollen combines the classical piano and a number of electronic elements and vocals. 100 Generations is a more accessible ballad in a more laid-back tone without much of the driving beats that many other tracks have. This is definitely one of the more thought-provoking tracks.
Overall this is a great disc. Some people that approach this band as a synthpop band may be a bit disappointed in the amount of variety and styles in their music as it ranges through piano loops to driving breakbeats and bombastic percussion. However, since I enjoy this range of musical styles and experimentation, it was a real plus for me. Over time as I listen to it more, it grows on me more.
Label: Dancing Ferret Discs