Italian magazine 'Darkroom' reviews 'The Secret Garden' album

Darkroom Magazine reviews 'The Secret Garden'

by Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi

[translation from Italian]

We’re sorry we weren’t able to review 'Ghost In The Rain', Alien Skin’s third album,  but we’re pleased to give support to George Pappas, long term keyboardist with the Australian band Real Life (yes, the band with the 80’s hit single 'Send Me An Angel').  We reviewed his second fantastic album 'The Unquiet Grave',  highly rating it.

It’s therefore a great pleasure to meet George again and to discover his fourth solo album, released once more through the American 'A Different Drum' record label. This new work has been isued in a limited run of 300 copies in an attractive booklet format, and part of  the label's 'VIP series' (an astute way  to minimize costs in an industry affected by economic difficulties).

It would be simplistic to trivially define Alien Skin’s music as 'synthpop',  since George,  with his history of experience, has given ample evidence of how his songwriting is able to go beyond certain pop-oriented clichés that other well known artists imitate (albeit in a context acceptable to us). There’s so much passion and intimate pathos in Alien Skin's music, that only those  who sing of profound and lived emotions can express, and any easy comparisons with Martin Gore, Depeche Mode or David Sylvian are acceptable but at the same time misleading ....

George’s music, with its haunting evanescence, suave atmosphere and beautiful sounds,  perfectly in line with the nocturnal aura which has become his trademark, succeeds because it is extremely refined and because it creates an intimate participation in those who listen to it with the right spirit. It would be a crime, therefore, to compare such haunting beauty with those artists who pursue the goal of an easy hit and a catchy melody suitable to be played on the radio.  I’m not saying that Alien Skin’s songs don’t possess this potential, and it’s not at all surprising that a professional artist who grew up in a successful group like Real Life, with all his experience, knows how to equip his songs with those “tricks” that would potentially make of each of them a hit single, but it’s evident that George’s music is much more than this.

Inherent sweetness unfolds with infinite gentleness in episodes such as the  track '19th Century Girl' with its sublime melodious ambiance,  'On A Fine Day' that seduces the listener with its delicate enshrouding rhythm, 'Sunny Day' and the final track 'End Of The Season' . But in an album that  works wonderfully from the first song to the last,  we can’t forget emblematic kinematic and magnetic moments  like in the passionate 'Save Me', the intimate and nocturnal 'Crushing Flowers' and the sad 'Blue'.  You won’t find any song below a high level and George’s ever present inspiration makes his work totally blissful: it’s impossible, once again, to resist to all this fascination.

[My gratitude to Frank Spurio for the English translation from Italian]

Click to read the original review in Italian on the Darkroom website.

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