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The stark and simple expression of sadness has pretty much always been an integral part of popular music, but for a number of recent artists -- groups like Low, Red House Painters, Mazzy Star, and Smog -- it's a passion bordering on obsession. Camden, England's Tram is another such group; a gloomy indie drone-rock band spiritually descended from melancholy '60s folk artists like Nick Drake, Scott Walker, and Leonard Cohen and the suffering of the blues tradition. Their music is dark and fragile, often heartbreakingly mournful. There's a certain amount of narcissism here -- it's inherent to the genre -- but Tram avoids the common pitfalls of so-called "sadcore" by maintaining a light touch, keeping the melancholy to a minimum, and letting the music do the talking. And the music is exquisitely beautiful, thanks to its lush, subtle orchestration, which is dominated by tentative acoustic guitars and plaintive cello and violin.

Tram's principal members are Paul Anderson, who handles vocals and guitars, as well as some bass, keyboards, and percussion, and drummer/percussionist Nick Avery. They used to play in a Camden thrash band called Bin Hoker, got sick of it, and decided it was time for something entirely different. They debuted with the quietly poignant Heavy Black Frame (1999) and followed that up with Frequently Asked Questions (2001), where you'll find "Once I Was." The group's third album, A Kind Of Closure (2002), maintained their beautifully sullen and sultry delivery.

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