Sugar Plant

Happy/Trance Mellow

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Sugar Plant are a Japanese group who have given us a two albums on this two-disc 1998 release. The first is entitled Happy, where Sugar Plant offer up Japanese shoegazing pop sensibilities in an electronic forum. These songs have subtle, beautiful layers piled on top of one another, rolling along on the same groove, never getting boring or old. The analog syths bleep, blip, and drone along like Stereolab or American Analog Set. Vocals are lush and sweet with a wonderful whispery and off-the-cuff quality. When two vocal tracks work together the sound reminds one of the Cocteau Twins. Drums and percussion drive the songs along, while many washes of sound heighten the grooves. Guitar sounds step up for a melody when the vocals cut out. The chord changes are subtle and have a dramatic '60s ballad feel. While Happy rides out on a melancholy lazy chant, Trance Mellow starts on a soothing, dreamy feel. The record is less groovy than Happy and more ethereal. This earlier effort seems less produced. Also, the vocals sound less confident and/or mature. The subtle changes and the incremental repetition make up the basis for Trance Mellow -- guitars sound wide and lush, playing varied melodies and drums provide the cues for the accented climaxes. "I Was You" is a metaphysical love song, telling the tale of two people being together in various forms of nature. The song is a slow tempo reflection on a '60s style ballad. Guitar picks between two chords while the organ drones on the chorus, reminiscent of "A Whiter Shade of Pale." "Meadow," the closing track on Trance Mellow, opens with weaving sounds and a sample of someone saying, "Ecstasy is all around you and you don't have to do anything." The 20-minute song repeats the same piano line the whole time while atmospheric tones fade around the piano and occasional pluckings of guitar. "Meadow" sounds like Brian Eno's Music for Airports with extra instruments providing more depth to round out the end of the record. This double disc by Sugar Plant is not to be missed by fans of dream pop and space rock.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 8:05
2 7:11
3 7:21
4 4:42
5 6:09

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 8:35
2 5:29
3 6:25
4 8:57
5 20:34
blue highlight denotes track pick