by Aedyn Roze
Imagine walking into a vast garden on a moonlit night with a haze of mist at your feet. Now transform this scenery into music and you’ll get Len Sander’s Phantom Garden. Originating from Zürich, Switzerland, this 6-piece band had only started their journey in 2014, but the music produced in this album has such a sophisticated approach to the chillout/lounge genre that it speaks loudly to the quality of material and the cohesive talent of each member in the band.
The vocals of the band can either “make or break” how a song comes across, but Blanka Inauen’s soothing, seductive, and rhythmic style really sets the specific sound that is Len Sander. With just enough reverb and panning effects on each track, Inauen’s voice transforms the music into a sensual, atmospheric trance – a vocal style that could just be the combination of Daughter, Swandive and Oh Land. The electric guitar melodies provide an edgier texture as expected, adding on another level of sensuality, and the electronic percussions, synth beats, and acoustic snare provide the perfect amount of structure and rhythmic guidance.
The chorus in “Electrocardiography” would probably be the catchiest of all the songs, simply from the melodic way that it’s sung. But, from the first listen-through of the album, the piano segments in “Ungrowing” really did it for me. Perhaps that’s an element that draws me in the most or the fact that it’s the first song almost halfway through Phantom Garden that brings in piano chords, nonetheless, its inclusion immediately brought beauty to the song and Inauen’s vocals once again provides the soul. “Animal State of Mind” makes for an excellent and strong closing to Phantom Garden with the crescendo of the snare.
The lyrics are abstract reflections that go hand-in-hand with this genre and the songs become poetic because of it. It’s clear when you listen to this album that all the elements were carefully layered to produce a certain sublime sound and feel – an album perfect for the nocturnal soul in that phantom garden.