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Here's an interesting one. Silk Flowers are a New York synth trio, and on this record they're knocking out some smooth, dark analogue synth gems. It's pretty spare stuff, but the melodies are totally hypnotic and there's clearly been a lot of attention and love put into the tones they're creating. There's elements of darkwave but also a real bounciness in places, verging on synthpop even, but then at other times, like the awkward 'Covered Lamp', they're playing around with rhythms and there's a real live performance dynamic to the music, which is really refreshing and unusual in this synth-saturated context. The final track of the first side, 'Fruit of the Vine', is the first piece with any vocals. They're crooned quite low, almost Ian Curtis-style, and give everything a bit of a new romantic-meets-darkwave type feel. In all honesty I could live without them, but it's not like they ruin the track, and I admire the idea of having an essentially instrumental band that just throws vocals in as an occasional garnish to complete the feel they're going for. Onto the second side, opener 'Small Fortune' is a really driving, uplifting jam with pulsing bass and insistent drums and a constant stream of infectious melodies that wash over you like Daft Punk at their most casual. It's followed by 'Band of Color', which uses vocals again to really good effect this time. There's a really organic seeming mix of light and shade here that I'm really warming to. The closing track 'A Brush Through the Dust' totally crystallises everything that's come before and throws in some glorious stabbing chords over that distinctive low-pitched croon, which makes its third, final, and most effective appearance on this disc, exhorting "some day we'll be back to where we came but the world will keep spinning just the same" while the synths go into Pet Shop Boys-esque pop expansiveness, tempered with some jarring dissonance to keep it from sounding too top 40. They've taken the synth geekery that's winning everybody's hearts right now and structured the tones and drones and pulses into a retro-futuristic experimental pop voyage that's restrained and imaginative in equal measure. Bravo.
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