Golden Gardens: The Somnambulist Remixes
Automation Records

Golden Gardens duo Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble and Gregg Alexander Joseph Neville characterize their sound as “Dreamscapes and Anthems for Magical Minds,” a succinct and fairly apt description for the music the long-distance collaborators release (Bramble and Neville are Seattle- and Florida-based, respectively). Though the group's sound comes out of the dreampop and shoegaze traditions, it's a tad more dreamy than the norm (due in part to a self-professed love for fairy-tale literature, among other things), and consequently “dreamgaze” might serve as the most useful handle, even if phantasmagoric might just as easily spring to mind.

But let's not forget that The Somnambulist Remixes, a thirty-eight-minute limited-edition cassette release, is a remix collection, so what we're hearing is the group filtered through the madcap sensibilities of contributors. And a madcap ride it is, though it's also (depending on who's in control), on occasion, relatively clear-headed. In a so-called “Lizzy” remix, Cex (Rjyan Kidwell) twists “Elizabeta” into mangled electro-pop funk shape, with quirky flickerings of electronic noise darting out like tentacles while a quasi-hip-hop beat saunters merrily alongside. Just as trippy, nonnon's (Dave Madden) “Pareidolia” remix of “The High Priestess” dishes out a stomping, clatter-funk maelstrom of chopped vocals and mind-melting experimentalism, though some semblance of nightmarish control sets in during the closing minutes. Teras's “Sometimes In The Moonlight” remix of “Paresseux” comes across like some desperate night-time invocation, with the male vocalist pouring out his soul in an impassioned plea against a swollen, synth-heavy backdrop, and after an intro of crackly strings gets things underway, Phantom of the RIAA's “Paresseux” remix turns into a 4/4 techno thumper with Violet Bramble's Julee Cruise-like vocals riding o'ertop.

Not insignificantly, two of the strongest tracks come courtesy of the group itself. Joseph Neville turns “The Uselessness of Enchantment” into a beautiful, Badalamenti-esque instrumental of vaporous cloudscaping, while the group's “Invocation of the Violet” remix of “Paresseux” offers a luminous glimpse into an imaginary dreamworld. The tracks are so satisfying, in fact, they make one want to also track down the group's originating Somnambulist EP.

September 2011