Doppelganger – Curve (1992)

Doppelganger album cover
Doppelganger album cover

Somewhere between the ethereal drama of Vast and the pounding rhythms of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers was Curve. Curve came about during the height of the grunge’s commercial period, a time in the early ’90s when many bands were adopting elements of the then popular sound.

Curve on the other hand took a different approach. The London-based quartet led by Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia took some of its inspiration from My Bloody Valentine. For their strong debut Doppelganger, Halliday did the singing while Garcia provided the beats and played most of the instruments.  Doppelganger was the band’s first full length album, with three EP before in which to sharpen its sound. Produced by the band and Flood, the songs were written in a collaboration between Halliday and Garcia.  Their debut into the big time made a strong statement from its mildly disturbing cover art to the in-your-face angst of the songs.

A distinctive wall of noise guitar sound usually associated with some 4AD acts, early Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen albums was the backdrop for powerful beat centric and rhythm heavy songs. The approach was not unlike The Red Hot Chili Peppers with its heavy beats, but had some of the delicateness of more ethereal music. The formula was commercially successful as “Fait Accompli”  became an Modern Rock radio staple and dance hit. Other songs like “Horror Head” became a MTV favorite, revealing a band that looked both goth and glamorous.

Halliday’s vocals were at times embedded in the mix  like just another instrument. The songs were densely layered with percussion, drums and bass making for a heavy muscular sound. Unlike other bands that employed the “wall of sound” technique, the instruments were clearly delineated on all but the most low-fi of playback devices.

While Doppelganger was styled after everything from alt rock to shoegazing, it featured a strong rhythmic vibe. most of the songs were dance ready with an apocalyptic drone about them. In the few moments when the band let up for a ballad, the results were often surprisingly pleasant as in the sparse “Sandpit”.

Doppelganger was influential in the development of alternative rock with a dance edge. Curve would also inspire later bands like Vast who took the same basic formula and added a bit more drama and mysticism. Despite their long-lasting influence on the development of alternative dance music in the ’90s, the band’s fortunes dried up by the end of the middle of the decade after the release of Cuckoo in 1993. After a hiatus the band reformed in 1996 and has had a few releases since then.

 

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