Sunday 31 December 2017

Favourite Albums of 2017 #15 Curxes - Gilded Cage

Between 2011 and 2015 UK south coast electronic two-piece Curxes delivered a string of mainly self-released singles that hinted at an exciting debut album. Unfortunately, when Verxes arrived it was a relatively disappointing beast heading too far into confrontational shouty punk territory for many early fans.

However, with a couple of years away from the music, a relocation to the Isle of Wight and Curxes now being just a solo project of lead vocalist Roberta Fidora, 2017 saw a return to the fold with Gilded Cage, an album that went back to Curxes’ electronic roots, but with a much more singular experimental and less retro sound. In fact, on first listen it’s quite possible for Gilded Cage to leave the listener scratching their heads and wondering where the songs, hooks and melodies are such is the level of leftfield oddness. But they are there; they’re just subtler, weirder and less in your face. 

At Gilded Cage’s core is Roberta’s voice. In places it’s beautifully soft, sensual, creepy, pitch-shifted, ghostly, unsettling, dreamlike and gloomy. It's often difficult to understand what she's singing about, but that doesn't really matter - that just adds to the unsettling and somewhat menacing nature of the record. And the music itself? That could be described in a similar way. Don't expect bangers here - this is more unconventional. Fidora could, I'm sure, write a big pop tune if she wanted, but this new model suits her equally well.

So what can the listener find here? The instrumental Uniseum sounds like a modern-day version of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (the part that was used on The Exorcist) whilst Silent Running suggests that Roberta has spent a lot of the last few years gorging on dirty drugs and blood-thirsty horror flicks with its disturbing and heavy electronic pulses and weighty electronics. It’s not all so eerie and strange that it’s inaccessible though. In Your Neighbourhood is a delightfully gloomy but soothing spelling-bee electro pulse pop song with melancholy spectral vocals and Misery Mass would be worthy of featuring on an album by The Knife or Fever Ray.

Gilded Cage isn’t a record that is going to be ‘successful’ in the way that some people view success. The chances of it selling any significant numbers or having big streaming statistics are very low. It’s way too out there and way too experimental. Besides, it’s self-released with no major marketing budget behind it. However, in terms of being a coherent, interesting and inventive piece of outsider pop, it's very much a success.

You can buy / steram Gilded Cage via Bandcamp by clicking here

Curxes - In Your Neighbourhood

Curxes - Uniseum (Video)

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