Trance to the Sun were a truly unique band. I hesitate to hang a genre on them. Darkwave? Goth? Psychedelic? I have no idea what to call them. Their music had a meandering quality that made it seem unstructured. But this was deceptive.
And, even with three vocalists, the band’s music had a cohesiveness. But it also changed constantly. The band released two discs with singer Ingrid Blue, Urchin Tear Soda and Atrocious Virgin. They are now releasing a companion disc to these, The Blue Obscurities. The disc includes seven previously unreleased tracks and six out of print songs. You can get it digitally or in a limited eco-wallet CD with photos and art by Blue.
There will also be a collection of rarities with the first vocalist from the band, Zoë soon. -Patrick Ogle
Ah, the odds ‘n’ sods compilation. Some collections that gather up stray comp and tribute album tracks and outtakes are strictly for collectors only, putting all the scraps that a fanatic would want together in one place. Others, however, can be revelatory, putting a different spin on an artist’s vision or simply putting enough good unknown tunes on one disk that you scratch your head wondering why they never saw the light of day before.
The Blue Obscurities, the latest collection from the long-defunct Trance To the Sun, leans toward the revelatory side. The duo’s mastery of the art of gothic shoegazer ethereality was always evident – instrumentalist Ashkelon Sain harnesses echo, reverb and distortion as well as Robin Guthrie (his rather obvious hero), and singer Ingrid Blue soars prettily one minute and passionately the next. That’s all well and good, with fine tracks like “Unexpected Snow” and “Mr. Pluto Head” luxuriating in the requisite winter beauty, and “Her Magnetism” sounding like a ghosthunter’s dream. But it’s the cuts on which TTtS steps outside those boundaries that things get really interesting. “Malla At East” flirts with jazzy rhythms and moodier textures before evolving into a dream pop anthem. “Secret Police” marries its melody to a postpunk arrangement that borders on dissonance, as the lyrics seem not so much to be sung but escaping Blue’s larynx. “Ophelianic Mosquito” combines all of the above with great gooey dollops of psychedelia for an exquisitely sensual journey through body and soul.
The duo brings its personality to bear on cover tunes, as well. Fleetwood Mac‘s perennial instrumental chestnut “Albatross” becomes a languid lounge instrumental (if you decorate your lounge with black lace curtains and scented candles), while the Who‘s “The Real Me” evolves into a flowing shoegazer anthem of real power. The band’s take on Cocteau Twins‘ “The Thinner the Air” nods to a primary inspiration with a slightly heavier edge. With the exception of the Twins piece, TTtS makes these well-known songs its own, putting them on par with its originals. The Blue Obscurities may contain work that the band considers ephemera, but it makes as strong a case for Trance To the Sun’s existence as any best-of ever could. -Michael Toland