The group Amber Asylum, formed in San Francisco, is made up of a talented -- if changeable -- group of artists. Kris Force acts as violinist, guitarist, and lead vocalist; Wendy Farina handles drum kit and percussion; Erica Stoltz is both bassist and vocalist; and Jackie Gratz plays the cello. Other musicians have been members or have worked with the group, such as Timothy North, John Benson, violinist Annabel Lee, cellist Martha Burns, John Oberon, pianist Michael Richards, Blaise Smith, clarinetist Heather Sneider, guitarist and drummer Steve Von Till, and Camille Norment.
Along the way, Farina has worked with other groups like Towel, Condor, and Red Shark. Stoltz has appeared as bassist and lead vocalist for a band called Lost Goat. Force and Gratz have performed with the groups Matmos and Neurosis.
Amber Asylum's first release was a split, "Looking Glass/Poppies." In 1996, the group completed a full-length album, Frozen in Amber, under the Elfenblut label. "Heckle and Jeckle," "Ave Maria," and "Volcano Suite" are some of the tracks listed on this debut album. The music has been compared to that of Coil, Mazzy Star, Siddal, and Matmos.
In 1997, Relapse Records released Amber Asylum's second album, Natural Philosophy of Love. The band soon returned to the studio to record Songs of Sex and Death. The noteworthy album was released in 1998 with tunes like "Vampire," "Dreams of Three," and "Everything You Touch." Supernatural Parlour Collection followed two years later. ~ Charlotte Dillon