Golden Gardens: Between the Siren and the Amulet
Golden Gardens, composed of self-described dreamgaze duo Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble (vocals, lyrics) and Gregg Alexander Joseph Neville (synths, guitar, keyboards, drums, bass), presents an hour-long collection of luscious, alchemical dreampop on Between the Siren and the Amulet. Atmospheric in the extreme, the group's sound might be likened to Mazzy Starr jamming with Julee Cruise at the Twin Peaks lodge. Bramble's voice possesses a gauzy and velvety softness that allows it to glide overtop of Neville's entrancing dreamscapes with ease, and the duo acknowledges shoegaze and triphop outfits such as Slowdive, Loveliescrushing, Massive Attack, Cocteau Twins, Portishead, and My Bloody Valentine as kindred spirits.
When faint traces of piano surface amidst the synthetic ambient darkness of the instrumental overture “Peisinoë,” you'll be forgiven for thinking you've entered the disturbed realm commonly associated with Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch. Golden Gardens specializes in widescreen shoegaze lamentations, exemplified by “The Empress,” suitably transporting in its marriage of Cruise-like vocals and reverb-drenched guitar-and-synths atmospherics, and the comparatively more uplifting yet equally ethereal “Amethyst.” The album's full of seductive dreampop (“Ghostwood,” “Three Jewels”) and, to a more modest degree, triphop (“The Golden Dawn”). Near album's end, a penultimate instrumental, “Cimaruta,” sets the scene for one final entrancement, the suitably gothic dreamscape “The Death of Lovers.”
Between the Siren and the Amulet is Golden Gardens' first full-length and follows quickly on the heels of a small string of EP and single releases that began with the late-2010 Somnambulist EP. The detail is worth noting for the simple reason that the album finds the group's sound fully-formed, with Bramble and Neville having distilled their many influences into a persona that, while clearly derivative, isn't without its own distinctive character and appeal.