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

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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.

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