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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Fading Away CD Cover
Image B McCallion/R Gaglia 2006

More Bernadette McCallion:
Never Going Home (2003)
Cry Wolf (2000)

Bernadette McCallion
Bernadette McCallion (vocals)
Image B McCallion/R Gaglia 2006

(25 April 2006) Labelling music with broad genre definitions generally tends to serve musicians poorly, often lumping disparate bands together and ignoring any individuality in sound. However, Pitch Black Dream's description of their music as electronic ambient pop is about as accurate as they come.

Pitch Black Dream is Rich Gaglia (synths, guitars and programming) and Bernadette McCallion (vocals). Fading Away (PBD002, 2006) is the duo's second album following the successful 2003 debut Never Going Home (review). The music is probably best summarised as beat driven, with ambient undertones and pop overtones. In a densely populated musical area, it's to Pitch Black Dream's benefit that they use guitars to give the music more colour than is often the case in a genre where synths and programming dominate and can render the music flat and bland. Certainly Rich creates some gorgeous laid-back moods and textures for Bernadette to float her vocals on. And for the most part the combination works well.

The opening track "Cause Of Death: Unknown" is as good as anything the genre has produced. On the other hand, some tracks don't quite match up to the best the duo have to offer, the overtly pop "Here We Go" for example sounds a little like something Madonna might slip out as a filler third track on a CD single hoping no-one would notice. On the other hand, "Taking Me Down" and "Say Yes" are lushly arranged and gorgeous pop-oriented tracks, memorable melodies and all. The thick guitar-laden "Hypnotized" is dramatic contrast and, with Bernadette's voice still in focus, clearly shows the duo's virtuousity.

Unfairly perhaps, albums in this genre so often stand or fall on the strength of the vocalist. Bernadette's delivery is uniform and most delightful throughout, mellow, relaxed and breathy on occasions. On "Anywhere" she sounds not unlike a Sarah Cracknell (Saint Etienne) but perhaps the music would benefit from a wider variation in tone from time to time. She seems to be singing well-within herself for most of the disc and on occasions and we certainly believe she could release herself and let the power she we are sure she can deliver emerge once in a while.

Generally, the song-writing is excellent and when the duo get all the elements right in a song, which they do more often than not, the music delivers. The closing track "Downtown Tonight" is another gorgeous example. On the odd occasions when something isn't quite up to par, the songs tend to pass by without impinging on the memory at all. Overall though, Fading Away is a hugely enjoyable album and should serve to build on the success of their debut. And as an album to drive to on warm summer nights we doubt it'll be bettered this year.--Jamie Field in Hereford, England and Russ Elliot in New York

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