Skies A Crossed Sky
1996
Tracks
  • vanish
  • rest in motion
  • troly
  • spacirelei
  • terpsichore
  • door 2416
  • mot juste
  • follow from swallow
  • brighter still
  • sandblaster
  • grend shanka
  • serene and smiling
  • almost perception

Bethany Curve’s first, self-produced, album came in while preparation was underway for Nocturne Concrète. It was frankly amazing. Probably the best demo tape we’ve ever heard. They became the first band to officially “sign” with Unit Circle Rekkids. They followed up this great record with the stellar “Gold” and “You Brought Us Here”.

Available from:
amazon
spotify
deezer
Related Releases:
Reviews
Nox

Bethany Curve's specialty is lots of layered sound. The vocals of Richard Millang and Ray Lake softly soar, while Chris Preston on bass, and David Mac Wha on drums, keep a steady beat. My first thought upon hearing the eight-minute long Vanish, is that it reminds me of The Cure in one of their moodier moments. In fact, many of the songs here have that sound -- particularly the guitars. However, the vocals are quite different. I don't like to compare performers to others, but keep in mind that I do this from time to time in my reviews to help my readers get the best possible idea of what the music is like.

Spacirelei is a track that's also featured on the Nocturne Concrete Compilation that I have also reviewed here. Terpsichore starts out as a lovely melancholy song, and evolves into noise. Lots of innovation here. The intriguingly titled Door 2416 is a lush tune with sweet vocals, while Grend Shanka becomes more sinister in tone. Almost Perception brings things to a close as one of the best songs on the CD. (Note: Bethany Curve have had one other release since Skies A Crossed Sky.)

All Music Guide
The motto of the band, boldly stated in the clear CD tray, reads "atmosphere - arrangement - sound - layering - noise," and that's about the size of it. The first track, "Vanish," will have any shoegazing cultists out there practically weeping for joy. Crossing the heavily phased intensity of the Cure with more recent kings of beautiful noise such as Slowdive, it clearly indicates where the rest of the album is headed. Skies a Crossed Sky is dedicated to the proposition that digital delay pedals and dreamy, druggy tempos and lyrics will always have a place somewhere. Released on a small label in the mid-'90s, it resolutely refused to fit in anywhere on either mainstream or alternative radio, making its joys all that much more fun to seek out. The vocals sometimes take a dark turn, but more on the level of quietly ominous dread than hyped-up screaming. More often than not, though, the band sticks to long, sighing deliveries which should be familiar to fans of Ride. Musically, the mix of styles on the record is impressive. The soft chiming and solo guitar webs of "Terpsichore" give way at song's end to crumbling feedback and heavily processed snarls, while the deep, lovely ringing which makes up nearly all of "Mot Juste" is simply to die for in its melancholy appeal. - Ned Raggett
Improvijazzation Nation - Issue #26
Bethany Curve: SKIES A CROSSED SKY - What a change of pace THIS one is! In from Unit Circle Rekkids (Seattle), this CD expands on the brief listen I had to "Curve" on UCR's "Nocturne Concrete", only a month or so ago. This Santa Cruz based group (according to the liners) "strive towards making mood music above the norm". No KIDDING! Though quite atmospherically inclined, there's still enough rhythm down under to keep your listening focussed! Sort of like the "Moody Blues", post-2000. Clean/clear recording will only add to your aural pleasure. One of the more interesting aspects is the use of guitar-based melodic patterning as a synth emulation. Now, maybe THEY didn't intend that interpretation, but it surely FELT like it. This music reaches for the outermost points of our galaxy and beyond), and ACHIEVES it! Fortunately for YOU, it's available for you to cruise along with. WATCH this group... they're GOING somewhere! SOON! Comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by th'Zzaj! - Rotcod Zzaj
Panopticon
On the cover of Bethany Curve's "Skies a Crossed Sky" is a color painting of clouds broken by the thin threads of sunlight. It is an epic picture of moody forces battling with a force much larger and powerful than they are. Such is the music of this band. Wispy vocals, heavily laden with sorrow and unattainable desire try to cut their way through cloudy layers of guitar to the listener's ear. All that makes it through, however, is the occasional thread of a sentence here and there. Owing much to the shoegazer goth bands of 80's, the four members of the band create a soundtrack to a movie whose sets are dark candlelit rooms with curtains shivering in front of broken windows. The album is definitely designed to be listened to from beginning to end, each song decaying into the next, on a dreary, rainy day or just after your significant other has dumped you. If you've already listened to The Cure's "Disintegration" and you still want more mood music, this is your next choice. - The_gun
Sonic Boom - 4.10
Bethany Curve is an intriguing band to be released by the primary noise oriented Unit Circle Rekkids, in that it contains an inordinate amount of harmony and depth. An extraordinary amount of passion and emotion is expressed with little more than a guitar and sequencer, almost enough to confuse Bethany Curve with a gothic act. The vocal are equally as intense and only serve to accentuate the already lush soundscapes created by vibrant guitar chords and imaginative programming. A few of the track border on ambience, albeit lacking any sophisticated loops or beat driven percussion to truly deserve that label. In any event, the most impressive item about this band is the non-conventional guitar work. I have no idea what series of pedals or delays the guitarist is using, but it has allowed the stringed instrument to sound more like a keyboard than anything else. Any band that can take a normally blasphemous instrument in relation to industrial music and rework it into something inherently opposite is deserving of my gratitude and respect.
Gajoob Magazine
The cover of this album lists the words : atmosphere, arrangement, sound, layering, and noise. That's a much better explanation than I could give to describe the sound this band can produce. I find their music utterly beautiful. Bethany Curve creates flowing soundscapes that'll make you feel as if you're floating above the clouds. They use what I assume to be some sort of synthesizer to create a sound similar to guitar sustain or a stringed instrument. Great music to space out to late at night.
Good Times (Santa Cruz, CA) - 11/14/96
Putting a '90s twist on an '80s theme, Bethany Curve's new album takes the mood-pop of bands like the Cocteau Twins and turns the dark up a couple of notches. The real beauty in Skies A Crossed Sky is how it balances a lush ambient sound with the driving undercurrent that runs through most of the album. Not every song grabs the ear, but a great beat and some spooky guitar work keeps everything edgy as Bethany Curve winds from rhythmic melody to shadowy noise, with the rich vocals wafting through the music like another instrument. Experimentation aside, Bethany Curve succeeded when they take on more traditional song structues, as proven by "Almost Perception." The end of the album offers a fresh take on the otherwise tired "secret song" device. - S.P.
3rd Nail - Issue #15

I love it when music just seems to pour out of the speakers like this. There is a steady beat, and snuggled up right next to it the bass repeats the same phrase over and over, then this long whining guitar note fades in like it was coming from far away and when it gets here it stays slow and high pitched compared to the beat plodding along behind it, the vocals enter like the guitar. You can't make out the words because it is just a moaning sort of keening, but that doesn't matter because it is just another instrument. I love this kind of stuff! Some of the tracks are more noisy and rockin' in a good way, but all had that sound-wall type effect.

The Cure used to pull this style off before Robert's vocals (and presumably ego) crowded out the music in the later albums. This is similar but even more dreamy and there is even an occasional old-western-movie type echo guitar part thrown in here and there (a-la-Fields Of The Nephilim). This makes me want to go lay on my bed an look at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. (Oh No! I'm 15 again! Help!) Wonderful music that will make you happy and sad all at once.

- JL
Outburn - Issue #2
Hailing from Santa Cruz, CA, but on a Seattle record label, Bethany Curve unleashes dreamy guitars, pulsing drums, and thick, but melodic bass lines. Although their press sheet compares them to Lush (hmmmm.....?) and The Fields of the Nephilim (Not!), I think they more clearly resemble the wash and vocals of Ride along with the other worldliness of Sky Cries Mary. Some of the songs have dark enough elements and traditional sounds to make the Goth kids happy, but I don't think that was Bethany Curve's intention. The guitars and bass make ample use of the flange, reverb, and delay pedals while the whispy vocals blend into the music. The recording is a little crude at certain points and could have been polished off more, but the album is very likable. I am confused as to why there are 16 hidden tracks at the end of the album consisting of experimental sound bites, but Skies A Crossed Sky is a good listen for those rainy days of winter. - Rodent
Magnet - Issue #27
The members of this Santa Cruz, Calif. quartet keep the shoegazing spirit alive and appropriately moody on their second full-length release. With a hazy, atmospheric sound that falls somewhere alongside Bowery Electric, Slowdive/Mojave 3 and Flying S aucer Attack, the 13 tracks here seem to float effortlessly together, help by wisps of looping bass lines, dissonant guitars and other studio gimmickry. Ray Lake and Richard Millang take turns on the vocals, although with the mounds of distortion, it's d ifficult to tell who's who. But signing is apparently not a big concern for Bethany Curve. Words definitely take a backseat to the murky yet melodic structure. Although droning at times, the band succeeds in creating a musical dreamscape. Choice track s include "Door 2416" (which is as upbeat as it gets, with a Nowhere-era Ride tone), "Vanish" and "Serene And Smiling." And while you're listening, gave at Skies A Crossed Sky's cover art, featuring- what else? - puffy clouds and shards of fading sunligh t. After a while, these clouds will start to move. - John Elasser
City On A Hill Press (UCSC Student Newspaper) - February 6, 1997

"I am not going to like this band," I thought as my friend handed me the Bethany Curve CD to borrow and review. My friend, like many in Santa Cruz, loves the Grateful Dead and Phish. I do not. But if I had written him off as a good-for-nothing dead head when I met him, I would have never gotten to know a really great person. And if I had prejudged Bethany Curve as another one of those bands that fits into this tired hippie genre, I would have been just as wrong.

Bethany Curve is more similar to the Cure. Their first full-length album, Skies A Crossed Sky, is representative of the atmospheric, space-rock sound the group's four musicians create. It would be an appropriate selection for napping, reading, or shroom ing. This is not rock-out-in-the-car music.

Bethany Curve's debut recording was on a compilation called Nocturne Concrète. It came out last spring on Unit Circle Rekkids. Guitarist/vocalist Christopher Preston described it to City on a Hill Press as "ambient, experimental, and Gothic." Ambient i s exactly what Skies A Crossed Sky is.

For most bands, vocals are the most central part of the sound, but Bethany Curve takes an entirely different approach as shown on this album. On the first track, "Vanish," psychedelic sounds emanating from the guitars of Raymond Lake and Richard Millang overlap vocals that are reminiscent of Gregorian chants. Other tracks, like "Spacirelei," have this same sound with the more prominent addition of David Macwha's drums, which race to keep up with the speeding guitar rhythms.

"Rest in Motion" and "Door 2416" have the more poppy Cure sound that Bethany Curve sometimes features on Skies a Crossed Sky. Still however, vocals are not so central that Preston's basslines cannot be easily followed throughout each song. Preston, Lake and Millang all take part in the singing on this album.

Skies A Crossed Sky sounds synthesized, but Bethany Curve has taken a more creative approach. "We use a lot of processors and effects but no keyboards. A lot of wacky shit - TV's, monitors, whatever sounds good on a guitar," Preston said.

There are not many breaks in the sound, not even between the songs. The album is 71 minutes of non-stop weirdness. According to Preston, they are the same way live. They write new interludes for in between songs for each show. This creates a trance-li ke mood. The listener is never shocked back into the awareness that they are part of an audience at a show.

Bethany Curve often plays at parties in Santa Cruz, but would like to do more shows. "We need to have a real place in town to play," says Preston. "Someone needs to open up a real venue."

Overall, Skies A Crossed Sky is exemplary of Bethany Curve's success in this atmospheric genre of music. Unfortunately for them, the audience they would appeal to is not large in Santa Cruz. Maybe they would be more successful in Santa Cruz if they did play hippie music. Personally, I am glad they do not.

- Sierra Junemann
Carbon 14 - Issue #10
Bethany Curve might be the west coast equivalent of Spacemen 3 or Spectrum, with less grandiose bits of 1970 Pink Floyd thrown in for good measure. Though they probably aren't as personally steeped in psychedelics as their music, the members of Bethany Curve seem to have spent a lot of time listening to the finer points of "space rock." This record won't make you dance, but parts of it might just float you across the room. - Larry
Permission - Issue #9
Bethany Curve is an intriguing band to be released by the primary noise oriented Unit Circle Rekkids, in that it contains an inordinate amount of harmony and depth. An extraordinary amount of passion and emotion is expressed with little more than a guitar and sequencer, almost enough to confuse Bethany Curve with a gothic act. The vocal are equally as intense and only serve to accentuate the already lush soundscapes created by vibrant guitar chords and imaginative programming. A few of the tracks border on ambience, albeit lacking any sophisticated loops or beat driven percussion to truly deserve that label. In any event, the most impressive item about this band is the non-conventional guitar work. I have no idea what series of pedals or delays the guitarist is using, but it has allowed the stringed instrument to sound more like a keyboard than anything else. Any band that can take a normally blasphemous instrument in relation to industrial music and rework it into something inherently opposite is deserving of my gratitude and respect.
(ed note: no really, Permission just reprinted the review from Sonic Boom, I don't know why, especially because I had pointed out to Jester that BC doesn't use sequencers at all.) - Jester
Voltage - Issue #2
Much Llike the compositions of Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, Bethany Curve's deconstructionist musical style features layers of beautiful disjointed sound. Although this band from Santa Cruz uses no synth keyboards, the heavily-textured guitar effects of Raymond Lake and Richard Millang blur all typical musical reference points leaving you wondering what instruments conjure that otherworldly sound. The 71 minute, debut CD bleeds from one track to the next with no discernible boundary between one song and another. Songs like "Rest in Motion" and "Door 2416" favor more Goth-pop melodies, but most of the CD powers through highly experimental space-rock noise. The faint, trapped vocal style of Christopher Preston forces the band to put their extraordinary instrumental talents center stage, but this does not detract from the CD. If Bethany Curve featured a highly-talented female vocalist, they might receive too many comparisons to My Bloody Valentine. Instead they offer a hypnotic musical soundscape that is altogether unique. - Da5id
Carpe Noctem - Vol 4/Issue #1
Much to my grim delight, I have never really outgrown my teen angst. The problem (or at least one of the most glaring existential ones) is that no one makes the music that fed it Joy Division, The Cure or The Smiths anymore. No one, that is, except Bethany Curve. The music that has darkened my life from age 14 to the present (21 now) can be found on Skies a Crossed Sky. It's all there, from the dull, heavy percussion to the borderline whiny vocals. Were the vocals not hidden beneath layers of electronically-filtered, razor-sharp guitars, the lyrics would likely be about your typical emotional agony-inspiring situations. But their loss among the oppressive music adds to the weighty atmosphere built by Bethany Curve. Though this recording carries on the tradition of the finest of 80's gloom-rock, it never sounds stale, but maybe that's just because my old worn-out copy of Faith does. Bethany Curve breathes new life into this part of my music collection. I think it will help sustain my teen angst for the next seven years, as it can for you. - Ben Colborn
Interface - Version 4.1
As ethereal as most Projekt or Tess bands, but with a definitely harder edge, Bethany Curve really pull off dark and spacey music without sounding trite or retro. Bethany Curve, with it's male vocalization and washed out, E-Bow induced guitar work, is very mature and quite listenable. This kind of droning and slow ethereal rock is perfect for quiet evenings or depressing rainy days. Skies A Crossed Sky is very minimal and tends to drag a bit at points, but overall is very moody and visceral. A treat for fans of Lycia, loveliescrushing and Love Spirals Downwards. - David Sexton
Neo Gothic Magazine - No. 9/10
Progetto estremamente valido (soprattutto tecnicamente), decisamente incline a miscelare molteplici stilemi sonori per lo piu inerenti la scena ethereal-goth; (fluidi) universi ambient-psichedelici; oscuri richiami al dark-sound piu intimista ed introspettivo, insidiato pero, da oblique sonorita noise (unica pecca per quanto mi riguarda). Valida la timbrica canora, senz'altro lemprata, soffusa, multiforme e carismatica... Interessante. - Dario lo Snorkio
Dewdrops - Issue #16

Bethany Curve has filled every crack and corner of this album with creeping, seething dark shimmer. Their goal is obviously to overload the listener with gloomy and shivering, yet strangely enlivening noise. The formula calls for lots of spiraling, deepening overtones with an atmospheric buzz that permeates the air beneath as pervasively as their glittering guitars fill the air above. Many of the tracks pick up speed slowly intensely, like a droning locomotive. The music churns in your periphery, never quite gone even between songs. The inertia of Bethany Curve's moody guitars tends to linger long after the silence has come and gone.

And be assured, it goes on and on and on... Half the album is patent dark/synth-ey/metal-tinged drone. Then there are songs like "mot juste" and "troly" that revisit a certain Victorialand blissfulness not often heard these days. Apart from the drums, which (though infrequent) are mechanical at best, this is a great trip. 8-pm, (7-bn)

Industrial Nation - Issue 16
Beautifully blended guitars a la The Cure's Disintegration but with an original touch and voice, Bethany Curve sweeps you away. Sometimes sad and melodic, other times bordering on experimental noise, Bethany Curve is unpredictable yet gives you a warm feeling inside. Very well produced and put together, the sonds and sounds mesh together great. Superb vocals, well-written lyrics and experienced guitars. Very recommended. - Lisa