I'm looking to identify the instrument (or synth?) that comes in at about 2:13 in Trembling Blue Stars' "Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise":

It also closes out the song:


First, coming at your question from what the instruments are in the band: The instrument credits on Discogs for the album Broken by Whispers mention a 'cello player in addition to the band, but no other instruments. The other instruments for the band are guitars, bass, drums, keys. For this song, the band are, I think : Bob Wratten, guitar, vocals; Annemari Davis: vocal; Michael Hiscock, bass; Harvey Williams, guitar/keys based on info Archived Shinkansen records website, plus rate your music

Robert Wratten (vocals, guitar), Harvey Williams (guitar, keyboards, 1999-2003), Michael Hiscock (bass, 1999-2000), Beth Arzy (vocals, bass, cello, 2000-10), Keris Howard (bass, 2000-03, 2004-10), Jonathan Akerman (drums, 2000-03, 2004-10)

Next from descriptions of the song/album: [Archived Shinkansen records website]

"In May 1999, work began on a third album, Broken By Whispers (the title refers to a line in Françoise Sagan's A Certain Smile). As before, Annemari provided vocals, and this time Michael was playing bass on nearly all songs"

Trembling Blue Stars: wikipedia

"Trembling Blue Stars are characterized by melancholic songs with shimmering guitars and introspective lyrics"

"Broken By Whispers, their third long player, was released in 2000 and saw them getting more press and radio play. "Dark Eyes" was voted Single of the Week on Mark Radcliffe's show on BBC Radio 1. The overall mood was melancholic, but Broken By Whispers saw the band experimenting with more bass and synth sounds"

I think the instrument is a guitar. Listen to this later live version, and you see that line played by a guitar (LHS of picture, stage right), Although he is standing in front of a portable keyboard, you can see the guitar as he moves around playing the line.

but revising a little, thanks to comments from @A_S00, @Pied_Piper. The first bit - the mix is quite dense at that point, so hard to be sure if it is a real guitar or not. The second is clearly sampled & sequenced. The band were playing with synths at this point : you could see the first as a contrast to the second, so making it more likely to be a real guitar, but you could also find reasons for the first to be a sampled guitar.

  • BTW, I love a good sad song, and this was a new one to me, so thanks! – Angst Dec 12 '20 at 13:20
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    Thanks! I'm definitely convinced it's a guitar playing the same part in the live version, still a little iffy on whether it is in the studio version. I've never heard a guitar achieve the keys-like note onset precision you hear in the final seconds of the song. Is there something you can do with a guitar that makes it sound like that? Can you achieve it with just very precise plucking? – A_S00 Dec 12 '20 at 21:02
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    @A_S00 It's a guitar sound, but sampled and sequenced. – PiedPiper Dec 13 '20 at 11:08
  • The close-out is certainly synth. The mix around the earlier one is denser so it's hard to be sure – Angst Dec 13 '20 at 15:43
  • I'll redo the answer to add some of this stuff +credits for extra contribs. I need a little more time to think about the first guitar bit. – Angst Dec 13 '20 at 21:15

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