White Swan Black Swan: White Swan Black Swan (Arch Hill)

 |   |  1 min read

White Swan Black Swan: Castle of Useless Junk
White Swan Black Swan: White Swan Black Swan (Arch Hill)

An excellent earlier EP by this Auckland duo and friends made repeat appearances at Elsewhere previously -- and this follow-up is their "double mini album".
W/B Swan are Sonya Waters and Ben Howe who have long and illustrious careers (in bands such as the Instigators, ICU in London, Orange, Superette) and they were together in the acclaimed Fang. Bassist Ben Furniss and drummer Rick McShane complete the line-up and here guests are Sam Prebble (violin) and Brig Wood (drums on one track).
For W/B Swan however the rock backgrounds are pushed away and the moods are more ethereal, melancholy, sonically spacious and gloriously melodic as they stalk territory between alt.country (with twanged Texas guitars), indie.rock and in places a European art music languor that is very appealing indeed.
With White Swan (Waters) and Black Swan (Howe) taking a disc apiece it is tempting to see a musical schism, but it is less two separate CDs than subtle changes of musical emphasis which might have worked just as well on a single re-ordered disc.
So not solo projects, but different sides of the same piece of Swan glass.
There is a cool, emotional distance sometimes on the White Swan disc which is entrancing; and the Black Swan disc errs more towards alt.country with wry lyrics.
At heart however are utterly appealing songs which are deftly realised, beautifully understated and which sit neatly across a wide emotional and stylistic spectrum, but always sound like W/B Swan music.
A lot of repeat-play listening.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Dictaphone Blues: On the Down and In (Blah-Lah-Lah)

Dictaphone Blues: On the Down and In (Blah-Lah-Lah)

If this year's New Zealand Music Month of May is anything like the last -- and there's no reason to think it will be otherwise -- then somewhere in excess of 50 albums will be released by local... > Read more

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: The Bilders; Beatin Hearts (Grapefruit Record Club)

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: The Bilders; Beatin Hearts (Grapefruit Record Club)

Not often we get to use the word “polymath”  . . . but it describes multi-lingual poet, writer, publisher, dramatist, musician-without-portfolio Bill Direen whose reputation... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

MUSEUM CURATOR BRIAN GILL INTERVIEWED (2012): Past perfect for the future

MUSEUM CURATOR BRIAN GILL INTERVIEWED (2012): Past perfect for the future

In the 21st century museum of the popular imagination, musty cases and specimens under glass have been replaced by brightly coloured interactive displays, whizz-bang educational sites for... > Read more

NZ OPERA'S BUNGA-BUNGA VERDI: Rigoletto in Berlusconi's Rome

NZ OPERA'S BUNGA-BUNGA VERDI: Rigoletto in Berlusconi's Rome

Ten days out from Christmas and little more than a fortnight before the 2012 Sydney Festival opening night and director Lindy Hume seems almost unnaturally relaxed. Might have been the... > Read more