Friday, April 19 2024

Sometimes Music has the ability to touch upon something so beautiful, yet so tragic that to critique it is to cheapen it; to strip it down into components and compartmentalise the various layers in order to fit a narrative, within a set word count is somehow trite and meaningless when to listen intently and allow the music to tell its own story, to speak and to understand is the more appropriate response. Yet this is the task I am charged with and one which I feel blessed to honour. ‘In Memoriam’ is a mournful, yet deeply, touching and cathartic four track EP from, the simply wonderful, Forgotten Garden. This a thing of fragile and transient beauty.

Forgotten Garden are a 2 piece, originally from Scotland, comprising of Ines Rebelo and Danny Elliott. Ines has subsequently returned to her native Portugal. How this geographical impairment hinders Forgotten Garden as a live entity remains unclear. Their style is inspired such by post-punk luminaries as The Cure, The Smith’s and Joy Division, which pretty well guarantee’s the duo a fairly stellar line in sad, poignant, haunting. However, to dismiss them as just another ‘shoegaze’, ‘morose’ band is both lazy and wildly untrue. Forgotten Garden are a gem of a band. Ines possesses a voice that, though likened to Lana Del Ray, has a far more rounded feel. Her breathy upper register has a dreamy ethereal air, more akin to Tori Amos, but when she ‘lets go’ you can certainly understand the Florence Welch references.

Memoriam’ is the opener to the EP and the song showcases superb production values, a driving bassline and good dynamic shifts allowing Ines’s voice to soar, no better emphasised on the chorus with beautiful interplay between high and mid voices. Structurally the song doesn’t deviate much beyond a binary format, but the wonderfully floaty harmonies over the mid-section offer light relief before the final verse and double chorus wraps things up very neatly. What makes this a stellar song are the vocals. Danny plays for the song, that’s not to do him a disservice at all, in fact it’s one of the highest compliments you can levy at a musician. No attempt is made to steal the limelight; workmanlike, industrious throughout, and quietly effective. 

Road to Silence’ has the potential to be a classic. There’s so much to love on this song; solid bass, emotive vocals, good production. The harmonising between Ines and guest vocalist, Michael Rattray is phenomenal. It’s easily up there with Tori Amos and Trent Reznor on ‘Past the Mission’. Structurally very similar to ‘Memoriam’, with the addition of synth strings flurries punctuating the verses, adding to the overall disquiet of the piece. Perhaps the one thing that detracts from the beauty and despair of the narrative are the drums. Often appearing to throw the song out of time with some challenging fills and other times too cavalier when a gossamer touch was required. 

On ‘The Wind That Brings The Snow’ Forgotten Garden serve up a wonderful banquet of Celtic infused folk rock. It’s divine, emotive and beautiful. The song is inspired by the 1971 Cairngorm Plateau tragedy and hearing Ines’s retelling, underpinned with toms, melancholy cello and picked guitar cannot fail to give the listener goosebumps. The song shifts with a short bridge, where fiddle is first introduced, and this is when the song begins to gain a sense grandeur. The use of fiddle over the chorus, underneath the repeated refrain of “And the wind that brings the snow blows on, blows on” really cement this song in all it’s poignant majesty.  This is what Forgotten Garden do best. They create scale. They create a narrative that is beautifully held together by a solid musical bedrock. And still they add more; the second verse see’s dual fiddles – not overpowering, but lovingly cradling Ines’s vocals. The third, some delightful pizzicato fiddle. There’s something cinematic about this. Something beautiful, but tragic. Everything in its rightful place.  

And so, to ‘Christmas Time’, the EP closer; a timeless, gothic masterpiece. An exercise in classic storytelling, traditional instrumentation and good use of a ¾ time signature. “Light is fading, the light keeps fading, fading out across the world,” isn’t just a throwaway line, Ines, simply doesn’t do throwaway lines. To me there’s almost something Dickensian about this. Something that speaks to the soul. You can draw your own conclusions, but alas, like the flame from a candle ‘Christmas Time’ dims with the last chord of a church organ.

With ‘In Memoriam’ Forgotten Garden have delivered something lasting and something beautiful. A duo of boundless talent who construct meaningful stories that touch those that care to hear.  

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Review

Summary

‘In Memoriam’ by Forgotten Garden; a wonderful mix of expert story telling and beautiful vocals on a solid musical bedrock.
90%
Emotive and beautiful

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Lyrics
Instrumentation
Production

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About Author

Gareth Johnston

Gareth Johnston is a Lancashire based musician and producer who studied music at MMU. He is a former reviewer for 'Glitzine' and when not writing for 'The Indie Grid' can be found restoring old furniture whilst listening to obscure alt-rock. He has too many favourite bands to pick one and insists it's easier to pick a favourite child.

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