Monday, January 24, 2011

CD Review: Sci-Fi Romance: ...and surrender my body to the flames

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Vance Kotrla is a man of many talents. He once played drums for death metal band Black Spiral and formed his own production company, Broken Image Entertainment, shortly after graduating from high school. Now he has turned his attention to music, releasing a solo CD, ..and surrender my body to the flames, under the moniker Sci-fi Romance. The name was inspired by a review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which described the film as a “sci-fi romance.”

…and surrender my body to the flames has already placed on a Best of 2010 list from a Dutch music blog. Even a cursory listen to the eleven tracks on the CD (also available via digital download on Bandcamp), will help you understand why this debut effort received such an accolade. The songs explore themes of love and loss with a sound that can best be described as “alt-folk.” The lyrics, which appear on the Windows Media Player screen as you listen to each track, have a melancholy literary bent to them. It’s somber Nick Cave meets Joseph Heller with a screening of Metropolis in the background. Fittingly, Kotrla has complied public domain footage from science-fiction films to accompany the songs on …and surrender my body. You can watch the videos on his YouTube channel or the Sci-fi Romance website.

Frankenstein’s Lament, with its haunting female background vocals and sparse acoustic guitar, is told from Dr. Frankenstein’s point of view as the angry villagers rebel against his creation. These Scars, combines a love song about emotional pain and a sci-fi tale of impending death. Kotrla channels a bit of Type O-Negative here, that is, if Type-O had a more intellectual approach to their lyrics. The wistful Long Gone looks back at youthful mistakes, while In the Dark Together conjures up visions of two young lovers on the road in a desert town, vowing to stick together no matter what fate bestows upon them.

…and surrender my body to the flames is an unusual combination of poetic lyrics and old-school science fiction imagery. Vance Kotrla’s main strength here lies in his words, and the mostly acoustic music serves as a conveyance to reveal the emotions and storyline.

Sci-Fi Romance Facebook Page

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