Review: Kevin Greenspon/Former Selves - "Betrayed by the Angels/Apropos of Golden Dreams"

Kevin Greenspon/Former Selves - Betrayed by the Angels/Apropos of Golden Dreams 
(Bridgetown Records 2013)
"Captures the spirit of orchestral Gothic acts of the Reagan era"

Though many artists claim seminal 80's dream pop band Cocteau Twins as an influence, few have come as close to matching their ethereal guitar tone as Kevin Greenspon. On his latest release, the A-Side of a split LP with Former Selves, the Los Angeles-based musician has found the perfect balance of rippling, syrupy ambience and shoegaze-y hiss, resulting in an exciting instrumental effort that will leave one expecting Elizabeth Frazer's vocals to burst through the layers of gooey, heavily affected guitar. Drop the needle on the disc's opening groove, "The Last Good Day", and, as if it were a cloud carrying a heavy load of snowfall, the track immediately bursts open, dropping small, frozen flakes of crystalline sound. Lead guitar materializes in the subsequent tracks, played sparingly, as if a piano. I feel emphasis is still on the brilliant drone brewing in the background, but hearing Greenspon's sparse, plucked guitar notes descend upon a dreamscape bed can have a magical effect. The subtle washes of harsh noise the occasionally crop up just add to the music's superb texture.

Fans of early releases on the 4AD label should be able to tell from the record's jacket that both sides of the disc are not only inspired by the 'Twins, but also captures the spirit of many other orchestral Goth acts of the Reagan era, such as Dead Can Dance or This Mortal Coil. These influences are definitely evident in Former Selves' half of the split, centered around lush synthesizer chords and haunting piano notes. Though its track lengths are longer, this side of the record grabs one's attention more immediately. Its minimalist instrumental approach recalls Philip Glass and Dustin O'Halloran, if either composer drowned their music in reverb and watery synthesizer. It's a simply beautiful effort and a perfect compliment to Greenspon's half of the album. Listen below.