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Passion Bel Canon are a London based trio brimming with a multitude of imaginative ideas creating music that isn't easy to categorise though “Dark Folk Pop” does give an idea. Their debut EP “Lights” is a stunning introduction to their world that reveals Passion Bel Canon to be the freshest and most original band around.
Consisting of vocalist/keyboardist Lauren Partridge, guitarist/vocalist Will Barter and percussionist Jamie Smith, Passion Bel Canon have spent the last three years writing, creating and performing their repertoire of original material. In 2015 they issued their wonderful debut single “Land Of Hope” which was played by Tom Robinson on his BBC radio show. In Summer 2015 they launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of this new EP which they recorded with Ian Flynn and Richie Kennedy of Werkhouse Productions. We at Brickbat Enterprises checked out the campaign and via various recordings on Soundcloud and videos on YouTube, we were struck instantly by Passion Bel Canon's sound, creativity and originality. This is music that deserves to be heard and appreciated by a larger audience.
The first thing that strikes you is how big a sound the trio create as they plunder a mind-boggling variety of odd sounds and devices to add and embellish throughout in addition to playing their usual instruments. Lauren has a superb, dramatic and emotional voice and uses synths in many styles. Will creates interesting textures with acoustic guitar, adding vocals here and there whilst Jamie is a sight and sound to behold creating the beats using actual percussion instruments alongside some electronics. Combined, they exude a genuine passion fusing together a wide range of influences and genres and creating something new and fresh that is distinctly their own.
The EP comes in a very eyecatching cardboard gatefold sleeve designed by Ellen Partridge and it kicks off with “Fire” which underneath it's swirling dark drones has a sense of percussive playfulness and a very catchy tune. It's pop, but not quite as you know or expect it as you learn that Passion Bel Canon are a band of dynamics and layers as they can and will suddenly drop the volume for quieter and gentler interludes.
The title track “Lights” follows and it's here the trio's folkier elements emerge with lovely acoustic work from Will on the verses which swiftly plunge into a dark doomy like percussive sequence over which Lauren shines. The beats kick in with layered vocals and the song takes another fresh twist and turn. The whole effect is stunning and effortless as the atmospherics hit you. This is one of the trio's strengths - their songs and music take you on interesting journeys.
“Emptiness” has Will to the fore on aching lead vocals with a lovely gently picked acoustic showing the strong folk elements of the trio. Lauren contributes gorgeous ethereal backing vocals and there's a lovely interlude where she and Will trade and swap vocals between them. All the while Jamie keeps up the effective slower beats with occasional and effective little embellishments. It's a lovely haunting song.
The EP climaxes with “Stranger” which is truly dramatic as Will and Jamie both hammer away creating an ominous tribal beat over which Lauren sings another one of her lovely melodies and then the guitar kicks in creating another subtle shift in mood that feels ever more ominous. Again, it's another effective use of tension, dynamics and drama creating something very memorable.
The EP as a whole holds together brilliantly. A lot of thought has gone into how it's sequenced and flows and the 16 minute and 38 seconds long journey seems to be over in the blink of an eye as you digest the journey through the world of Passion Bel Canon... then hit play again!
It's been an absolute pleasure supporting the band and listening to this EP many times since receiving it 2 or 3 days ago since it's a stunning, dramatic, dynamic and wonderfully creative experience. From the handful of videos we've seen they are every bit as special live onstage.
The EP will be officially released and launched in September published by Music Help, so until then, check Passion Bel Canon out via their website, Soundcloud and YouTube. If you like what you see and hear then you will love this EP.
BAZ (1st May 2016)