The Surprise Symphony

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The Surprise Symphony is an apparent side project by the mysterious Louisiana psychedelic-folk singer/songwriter Damien Youth who has been releasing obscure, well-done indie music on cassette and CD since…
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The Surprise Symphony is an apparent side project by the mysterious Louisiana psychedelic-folk singer/songwriter Damien Youth who has been releasing obscure, well-done indie music on cassette and CD since about 1990. In Surprise Symphony, he plays guitar, bass, piano, sitar, and cello, as writes the music for singer Robyn Nice's lyrics; the group is filled out by multi-instrumentalist Zane Armstrong and Berkeley (simply credited with "voice"). Their 1998 self-titled CD was, according to the liner notes, recorded and mixed in one week with a portable four-track studio, although the arrangements, production, and songwriting sound pretty careful, well-considered, and well-recorded. The album is more psychedelic and rock-oriented than Damien Youth's folkier, more acoustic solo material. It's moody, subdued, but not quite dark psychedelia, in the mold of late-'60s and very early-'70s British acts, particularly the just-post-Syd-Barrett Pink Floyd. It doesn't sound unduly imitative, though. It's dark-room late-night psych, melodic and attractively sung, with imaginative settings that make some use of sitar, cellos, synthesizer, and odd effects like children's voices. And, like all Damien Youth productions, it's much less known and circulated to the general public than it should be, receiving little airplay or attention even among the underground.