Serpentine Gallery (Deluxe Edition)
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When beauty collides with intellect, whether divine or arcane, the result is always good listening. Subtly sublime and hypnotically haunting, Susan Wallace and Tina Root, the darkwave duo behind Switchblade Symphony, brew an ambitious goth broth on their debut LP, Serpentine Gallery, named after the famed British exhibition hall. Following the lead of surrealist photographer Man Ray, these California girls go for textures of mood beyond the framework of conventional songwriting. Luckily, Serpentine Gallery combines two demos, so the song base is strong; "Fable," which deals with fairies and magic, and "Elegy," which doles out cold, hard reality, come together seamlessly, because the production on Serpentine Gallery supplies a sonic wash that unifies the two disparate ideologies. Sure, sometimes such atmosphere outweighs the melody and leaves the lyrics behind. But all is forgiven, for Wallace and Root are young and their ideas possess maturity and depth. Their unique chemistry and diverse influences explain their popularity with a generation who rarely visits such bizarre realms of beguiling Baroque. Each tune wields enough personality to distinguish itself ("Dissolve" and "Clown" are quite good). Varying sonics and guitar gnashing help "Sweet" soar (not a reference to the gutter-glitter band of the same name, as Root is surprisingly influenced by the vocal styling of Mike Patton). Switchblade Symphony could resurrect the mysticism and eclecticism of vintage Siouxsie and the Banshees. That's a lofty goal, but these are two talented ladies. [The Deluxe 2005 edition features a greatly expanded song list (on two CDs) as well as a radio interview and bonus music video on CD-ROM.]
As this is a great album for those that especially enjoy Gothic Rock and Darkwave, you might protest that the author normally listens to music full of distortion and clanging metal, with lyrics about torture and totalitarian governments...but I have to say I was expecting more. Don't get me wrong, some of the tracks are great... But my main problem with this album is the lack of experimentation. Most of the songs, for the majority of their length, let the melody sit on 3 or 4 notes, and they use similar samples and synth settings...
It's great for people that like this kind of thing...but I was a little disappointed.
Years Active: '90s, '00s
Top Albums and Songs by Switchblade Symphony
||Clown||Serpentine Gallery (Deluxe Edition)||5:38||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Gutter Glitter||Serpentine Gallery (Deluxe Edition)||3:50||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Soldiers||Drool - EP||5:00||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Drool (Mother)||Drool - EP||5:11||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Witches||Halloween||4:18||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Dollhouse||Serpentine Gallery (Deluxe Edition)||4:08||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Clown||Sweet, Little Witches||6:04||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Gutter Glitter||Gothic Essential Tracks||3:51||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Mine Eyes||Serpentine Gallery (Deluxe Edition)||4:24||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Dissolve||Serpentine Gallery (Deluxe Edition)||4:35||£0.79||View In iTunes|