Review- “Belladonna”- Taiwan

reviewed by Michael Thomas

What came to your head while you read the name of the album and band? Assuming you’re not already familiar with this Edmonton three-piece group, chances are whatever you imagined this group to be will not be reflected in the musical output. The name gives away little about what the band does- I certainly had no idea what to expect when listening to this album for the first time.

Taiwan (the band, I mean) describe themselves as “a three piece that tries to capture the experience of sneaking downstairs as a ten year old child in 1989, and drifting in and out of sleep during an endless procession of Twin Peaks and R-rated movies.” This is a surprisingly apt self-description.

So what exactly is this album all about? Well, it’s composed of 18 tracks, most between a minute and two minutes, and all with very non-descript names- there’s “A01” all the way to “A09,” and then “B01” all the way to “B09.” There are no catchy sing-along choruses; there are no epic guitar solos; there are no quirky lyrics. Rather, each track is a wash of melodies played on a grainy keyboard, with some tracks giving the illusion of horn accompaniment.

With little else to distract, this music leaves the listener to fill in the blanks in their heads. For me, I felt as though I were on a psychedelic trip as I began to imagine scenes that might accompany the music. Some songs made me think of staring outside a window on a rainy day; others made me feel like I was being chased (or about to be chased) by some creature lurking in the dark.

With regards to what genre is, again this is completely up to you. Some songs almost sound like jazz, others like interludes in synth-pop.

Whatever Belladonna and the music of Taiwan is, it’s a challenge to the listener, and not music for mere beginners, those who are trying to find something to latch onto and rave about. Instead, this is an album that requires patience and an active imagination. Check out the album (which can be downloaded for FREE) on Bandcamp.

Top Tracks: Hard to say; this is an album to be enjoyed whole.

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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