Houston Music

Flowers and Machines

A generation ago, goths were more brooding than shocking. Redefining themselves from the original punk-goths, the younger set reveled in synthmeisters Clan of Xymox, Depeche Mode and the beginnings of a dance movement called darkwave. Remembrance, the debut album from Houston's Flowers and Machines, celebrates that time before Marilyn Manson, melding '80s Euro electronic with neoclassical touches.

The songs on Remembrance may sound upbeat at times, but don't be fooled. This, too, is gothic music, just one of the many subcategories of the genre that appreciates the darkness of the human soul. Both Ken Gerhard and Kat Jones are veterans of the local scene. On her own, Jones performs gothic ambient music, while Gerhard also fronts the gothic-industrial bands Bamboo Crisis and Bozo Porno Circus. United as Flowers and Machines, they produce delightfully dark and mellow pieces.

Many of the instruments are authentic here. The classically trained Jones plays the flute, piccolo, alto and soprano saxophones. Often electronic musicians believe synthesizers are good substitutes for the real thing -- indeed, Flowers and Machines employs synthesizers to sound like a pipe organ -- but the instrumental virtuosity displayed on "Eden" belies this assumption. Even a dance number like "Security" has the lush orchestral feel of the slower songs. The only foible might be the overuse of the same patterns. The first few seconds of "I Breathe" and "Reinvent" are eerily similar.

Flowers and Machines has been performing since the early '90s. As a result, Remembrance is a mix of new and old favorites, each catchy in its own way, especially the ultraperky dance numbers "All in Your Hands" and "Levitation." Others, like the reflective "Robbing the Cradle," blend electronic bleeps with morose atmospherics. Each song seems to showcase different keyboard sounds. As a whole, the album -- one of the most eagerly anticipated for Houston goths -- reverberates with a mild moodiness offset by moments of sheer bliss.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sande Chen