Of all the genres that come and go, the one that always befuddles me for the scarcity of examples is Chamber Pop. Too easy to put a string section over what you are playing to make it classier (or corny if it’s badly done). Too hard to actually let the strings come out of the cage and let them have a romp. That’s the best type of chamber, where Baroque and Rock clash together to make Barock (sorry, I’m getting fired in March).
Silicon Ballet brings us a classy selection of Chamber pop in Utopia. ‘Victory’, an elegant and mysterious track musicalises the first piece, a playful minuet that melts indie pop with some 80s pop to make it deceptively radio-friendly. And then it starts to doodle, the vocals go up and down like a rollercoaster and, as sloppily mentioned before, the strings come and play and makes you want to learn violin. Victory and mediocrity, hand in hand, juxtaposed. Wonderful beginning, leaving ‘Stellar fade out’ to follow some of the ideas from the previous track, but adding a feeling of uneasy (love the guitar tone and notes – feelings of dread everywhere). “We will never let you” , a warning or a promise, we don’t know, we have been caught, hook, line and sinker and now we are in this dance macabre, alone in the clearing of a wood under the blue pale light of a full moon.
Creepy? Sure, it was just paving the way for more uneasy dread. ‘Utopia’ gives us some chilling moments in the intro (what the frijoles is that noise?) with some tension-building violins. Forget the pop and just use the chamber element. The song feels straight out of a suspenseful scene in a film (or a book… The turn of the screw would work perfectly). The fear passes by us and leaves us in another strange dance. A creepy chorus in the distance, a diabolical waltz in a long abandoned Estate ruined by decay. It’s ‘Sunglasses’ and it’s the afterthoughts of watching the video for Corey Hart‘s ‘Sunglasses at night’, the unnerving dystopia we were warned was coming up.
‘Different class’ leaves those horror motifs back and goes for a more straight up style, although it still keeps being quite baroque (and lovely). The catchy bits of indie pair up quite well with the dreamy wings weaved by the strings. ‘Spectrals’ feels like vintage 80s Gothic pop (a slightly cheerier Pornography-era The Cure would say a voice in my head – better left unheard). The hypnotic guitar arpeggio is kept on Earth with the steady beat of the drum and the fluttering atmospheres crashes again and again against the window with the morose delivery of “spectrals / spectrals / spectrals” in the chorus. A dark mantra with some ominous music. The instrumental bridge, where everyone seems to get their chance of the spotlight, is the highlight of Utopia. Indeed, it’s the moment where all these instruments feel right, dancing in unison, revealing their vampire teeth and adding a twist to the film, ridding the world of Fearless vampire killers and, God willing, bad reviewers.
Silicon Ballet ‘s Utopia is a wonderful EP of Chamber pop with some Gothic overtones. If you want to find more about this genre (challenging for some, a breath of fresh air for others), do check the bandcamp link provided.