Of These Years...
~reviewed by Matthew
The Garden were Pittsburgh's premiere Gothic rock band. A trio consisting of Stephen Marlette on vocals, Christine Sacramento on guitar and drum programming, and Anthony LaCava on bass. The band first emerged on the scene in the Autumn of 1985. Their lush and enveloping sound was akin to And Also The Trees and 4AD bands such as the Cocteau Twins and Clan Of Xymox, yet unique in it's own right. Certainly it was something new to the Pittsburgh underground alternative scene. They released their debut cassette "The Shallow" in 1986 and a second cassette, entitled "Willows Weeping" in 1989. The band instantly gained a following and a quality reputation was built upon playing live. In 1993, the band released a third cassette, "Angels, Harlots, & Men," which featured one of the band's most beloved tracks "A Doll's Life."
In 1996, Tanya Kavalkovich joined the band and accentuated the artistic melancholy with her classically trained violin playing. With Tanya's aid, The Garden's first full-length CD was recorded, entitled "Sapphire." The CD was produced by William Faith of California's hugely popular Renaissance Goth act Faith & The Muse, and was well-received by local dark music fans. Not long after the release, The Garden took a break in order for Stephen to focus on graduate school. Christine, Tanya, and Anthony formed The Clearing in late 1999, which contained many of the dark art rock qualities of The Garden, but differed due to the resonant alto vocals of Susan Stringfellow and a slightly more mainstream sound.
Recently, however, to the delight of many long-time local fans, The Garden reunited to perform last March to open for Sorrow (Rose McDowell) and Low Sunday for a special show in Pittsburgh. Fans were surprised to discover that for the first time ever, the three long out of print cassette releases of the band's early years were now compiled on a single compact disc
entitled "Of These Years," which was sold at the show.
The CD is a thorough eighteen track collection clocking in at over seventy minutes in length. With Gothic Rock music currently undergoing an unfortunate electronic metamorphosis, The Garden's music is beautifully nostalgic and recalls the blissful guitar flanges, lulling bass strums, and post-punk drumming of Goth rock's 1980's prime. Though some of the material is over fifteen years old, the vintage and stylish sound is a fresh treat to the ears of fans in search of traditional, straight-forward Goth music. The Garden offer a mature and artistic form of emotionally driven music, with an accessibility that in no way limits them to the Goth scene alone. This is an excellent CD and almost like a time capsule of one of Pittsburgh's most unique and important bands.
The Garden is:
The Garden – Web Site