Excursions – Gothic Paradise
I remember when this band first graced my CD player with their album Sublimation and their cover of The Smith's track “There is Light”. Many of us were introduced then to their style of electro-pop with hints of pop and other styles with breakbeats and melodic vocals. Years have past and they've graced us with a few other releases, but then I caught the band at the ADD Synthpop Festival in Salt Lake City and I was blown away with what they brought to the stage. Now we have their latest studio album that captures that excellent broad range of styles packed into their brand of “Synthetic Music for Synthetic People.”
Because I had talked to members of the band at the ADD festival and got a sneak peak into their future release, and heard for the first time their mid-eastern ethnic-driven piece “Triangular”, I was looking forward to this album. So when I first put it on and caught the studio version of “Triangular”, I was captivated. Eric has an excellent voice and I felt that some of the past pieces didn't fit well with his vocal style, but the tracks on this album blend very well, and I was pleased with this introductory piece into their broad style on this album. Other tracks that maybe aren't quite so infused but still mix breakbeats, electronics and smooth vocals with these same mid-eastern instruments and percussion stand out also like “I Promise” and “Twisting and Turning” to name a couple. Now personally I would have stayed away from the breakbeats, but this band still makes it work and these tracks come together nicely.
As far as catchy tracks go, there are several to choose from. This band isn't really what you would call one to release a ton of club-friendly material, but most tracks are still very dance-friendly and they all kept me moving at the festival when I caught them live. However, there's definitely more to a catchy track than how good the dance beat is, and they capitalize on these elements perfectly in “You're Not That Charming”, especially when guest vocalist Jill Sheridan jumps in with her harmonized backing vocals. There are some nice ambient elements in the down-tempo track “Racing” and later in “Snow and Joy” at the beginning, but then some excellent spanish flamenco guitar kicks in and it's really a fun piece to listen to. However the finale to the album in the form of “Return” is a piece to be remembered and leaves the listener breathless with it's stunning mix of stellar synths and heavy bass with more of that eastern-influenced percussion. This is an excellent way to wrap up the album and once again I'm caught surprised and impressed with the way this group has improved and solidified a solid style for themselves that is easily recognized and stands apart from the rest. Well done!