Swan Christy


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By ensuring that no two of their releases ever sound like the previous one, the impossible to pigeonhole Swan Christy obviously fancy themselves as the Greek answer to Norway's most restless and fast-evolving innovators, the quasi-legendary Ulver. Although commendable in itself, this strategy doesn't bode well for keeping fans interested for the entire length of one's career -- but it sure makes for constant surprises and little boredom. Julian, the fourth album by the group -- essentially comprising the core duo of Kostas Makris (vocals) and Iraklis Gialantzidis (keyboards), plus assorted programmers -- is a soundtrack without a movie -- literally! It's also another drastic departure from previous efforts on two counts: First, all and any heavy metal devices have been summarily dropped from the mix; and second, stylistically speaking, it may just qualify as the band's most focused and linear project thus far. Still challenging by conventional pop music standards, Julian is only a tad bit schizophrenic, and focuses mostly on sparse, downtempo electronic music and ambient drones to get its story-without-a-script across. Chances are, the album's mostly instrumental, techno-inflected contents will all prove rather tame for the band's heavy metal fans of yore (the same can be said for tracks like "But...That Was Before," and "Julian Just Died," which recall new romantics like Spandau Ballet or, stranger still, Elton John, were he to go all electronic and gothic on your ass), but lovers of daring and unconventional music are encouraged to bring their ears and unmade movie concepts -- maybe this'll be a match.

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