Some time after the visit with my friend that introduced me to industrial music (Brian was his name btw), he introduced me to another band that blew my mind, The Tear Garden. Of course he mentioned that it involved the members of Skinny Puppy, and he may have mentioned Edward Ka-Spell as well, though I had yet to discover the Legendary Pink Dots (and wasn't a huge fan once I did). I suppose this album isn't strictly industrial (and much of the rest of their work even less so), but it has some pretty industrial moments. For the most part, I would say it's more experimental electronic psychedelia, but if for no other reason than the artists involved, we'll allow it, eh?
Though I'm not a big fan of LPD, I can see the influence in this music, and I feel that it meshes well with the electronic strangeness that Cevin Key and the others provide. The Tear Garden tends to be, generally speaking, quite a bit mellower than Skinny Puppy, though there are exceptions... more on that later. One of the descriptors that I think could apply to both of the parent projects at various times is "haunting", and that feeling is present here as well. I think "strange" definitely applies all around, too, and in some ways, I think The Tear Garden manages to somehow be even stranger than either Puppy or LPD. I would also say that, like much of Skinny Puppy's work in the late 80's, this album (released in 1987) has aged quite well. It's kind of hard to believe how old it is, really.
There is a 2012 remaster of this album available on bandcamp: https://legendarypinkdots1.bandcamp.com/album/tired-eyes-slowly-burning-2012-remaster
The album opens with "Deja Vu", starting out with some wonderfully ambient synth work that actually wouldn't sound out of place on a Puppy album-- they have their mellower moments too, after all. However, once Mr. Ka-Spell's crooning begins, it becomes clear that we're in different territory. Although the vocals aren't clean, the effects are mostly subtle modulation and echoes, not the kind of messed-up-beyond-recognition stuff Puppy was doing at the time. However, if you've heard Edward Ka-Spell sing, you can probably imagine how the sound still manages to be slightly unsettling. Not that I think he's a bad singer, he just has that Syd Barret-esque kind of oddity going on. Like I said above, I think it works really well here. As the song progresses, there is some really cool instrumental bits moving in & out of the mix, adding nicely to the tension. The next song, "Room With A View", begins with some great cut-up vocal samples, leading into more great synth work. While the music here may not fit as well into a Puppy album, it would fit just fine on a Download release. The vocals here are just a little more tweaked, though still quite clear. They sound perhaps a bit more like a disembodied voice, if that makes any sense. There is a little less movement in the music, but there's still some cool background stuff going on. Once again, this is an album I love enough to ramble on about every track, but in the interest of keeping things to a manageable length, we'll jump ahead to what may be my favorite track here: the epic "You And Me And Rainbows (Parts One To Six)", clocking in at 16:48. What a ride this track is! We start out with a very cool, rather brash synth sequence, especially in comparison to the tone of the album up to this point. I guess this would be the first movement, and it lasts about two minutes. This leads into a mellower bit, with a pad that sounds a bit like an organ backing a marching snare beat. This is where the vocals come in as well, once again minimally effected. Though the instrumentation remains sparse in this bit, the intensity builds slightly, with a kick drum joining in occasionally, as well as a few more melodic parts. This sort of crescendos with a snare roll, which then cuts out, leaving a sort of creepy breathy sound. Then comes my favorite part. The relative silence is broken with a percussive sequence which includes some harder-to-identify sounds amongst the drums, and this awesome cacophony leads into this fantastic combination of sounds, including this crazy reverse-swelling synth and a driving beat (with more reversed stuff here & there). This is joined by heavily-processed vocals in a Skinny Puppy style. This would one of those less-mellow parts I mentioned above. This section also ends abruptly, fading into some strange radio samples. We're at about the 8:00 mark now, and things get mellower again from here, though still plenty weird. This section is more ambient, with a repeating piano riff playing over strange vocal-ish pads and atmospheric sounds. Just past 11:00, a nifty arpeggiated synth starts playing, and we fade back into a somewhat more upbeat vocal section, with the synth joined by mostly mellower percussion, and less effects on the voice. At about 14:00, this gives way to another kind of creepy interlude, and the final movement ends things with a darker, rhythmic instrumental section comprised of electronic drums, a bassline reminiscent of a horror soundtrack, and strange vocal samples. Like I said, quite a ride. Things stay pretty mellow again after this, perhaps especially on the next track, "Oo Ee Oo", which is devoid of drums, but heavy on the ambience and texture. Despite the lack of an actual rhythm section, there is a sort of throbbing pad that drones throughout most of the track, providing a subtle rhythmic element. Although I wouldn't necessarily describe it as dark, there is once again a tension here that gives things a certain edge. The rest of the album is great as well, but the last track I'll mention is the closing track, "My Thorny Thorny Crown". This is an incredibly strange one, with music that reminds me a bit of Coil, and more processing on the vocals again. It's hard to describe beyond that, you just have to hear it.
Not only is this a great electronic/experimental album, I think it's one of the greatest psychedelic albums released since the 60's/70's era, and for me, better than those... though I understand if you don't agree with that last bit. I think this is one to check out even if you don't generally like industrial music, though I think an appreciation of the strange may be necessary.