Even though "Garden Abstract" is Belle Da Gama's debut, it is an assured, sparkling piece of popcraft. Lead singer and songwriter Bradley Skaught is no stranger to the music world; as a member of Yuji Oniki's band, Bradley opened for the likes of Jonathan Richman, Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters), and For Stars, and played at the South By Southwest and North By Northwest festivals. With "Garden Abstract," he shares his own unique vision.
The hauntingly melodic "Three Cornered World", the hard-edged pop sound of "Unfortunate Wine", and the experimental palette of the title tune are among "Garden Abstract"'s bouquet of sonic blooms. With the assistance of a host of the San Francisco Bay Area's finest musicians, Belle Da Gama has produced a catchy yet intense collection of songs as sophisticated and colorful as the Salman Rushdie novel ("The Moor's Last Sigh") from which the band got its name.
The lineup of guest artists on "Garden Abstract" shows the depth of Bradley's connections to the local music scene. Scott Miller of The Loud Family and Game Theory, Sacramento pop legend Anton Barbeau, Yuji Oniki, and Dose One of the hip-hop collective Anticon all appear on the album. Ian Robertson, also a member of Yuji's band, plays guitar on several tracks; Jordan Dalrymple (from Call & Response) on drums and Yuki Kasuya (from Luminar) on bass round out the group.
"Garden Abstract" has won rave reviews -- Jeff Cotton of the UK-based pop 'zine Comes with a Smile wrote, "Solid quirky and lovable short pop songs with all the sweet harmonies and chunky chiming guitars you could wish for."
And from Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover: "Bradley Skaught [is] a man who knows his pop and who knows who to make a record with... a trail mix of twisted indie-garage-pop that's not far from Tommy Keene and Paul Westerberg."
Initially a studio-based band, Belle Da Gama is now a full-fledged rock & roll machine, featuring Bradley Skaught (guitar, vocals), Ian Robertson (guitar), Adam Symons (bass) and Michael Bishop (drums). You can catch them playing live all over Northern California, particularly in the Oakland area, which all four members call home.