The Surprise Symphony

The Surprise Symphony

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The Surprise Symphony play sullen, but not quite depressing, psychedelia on their atmospheric and impressive debut. As in the lighter, folkier outings of one of its members, Damien Youth, it's music that fits in the mold of psychedelic British acts from the late 1960s and early '70s, but manages not to sound unduly derivative or imitative. That's a minor but still remarkable feat that virtually all other post-psych psychedelic acts have not managed. The closest match for the band would be Pink Floyd just after Syd Barrett left, as the record employs the same mixture of spacy instrumental sections and wistful, almost folk-rockish melodies and vocals. The Surprise Symphony's world has its own foggy, disconnected mystery, however, like those of disembodied spirits caught between life, dream, and death. Certainly the twanging sitars, Mellotron-ish synths, and gently breathed vocals of "Lion Song" will appeal to many who dig the most ethereal sounds of late-'60s British psych, from Pink Floyd and others. In keeping with the Surprise Symphony's name, there's also a symphonic grandeur at points, as when the synth-piano combination plays an attractive death march of sorts on "Promenade." The mood does get lighter at times, if hardly chipper, as on the carnivalesque "The Symphony Has Started," and "Morning School" and "Girls from the Lake," which can't help but recall Donovan and Beatles songs like "Blackbird." The distant children's voices that burble in the background while a piano plays prettily in "Another Morning" are yet another parallel with vintage Pink Floyd, but somehow it sounds like a dignified derivation of the form, not a silly one. Overall, it's an extremely well-programmed, effective set, best appreciated in the late hours and during meditative moods.