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Peter Uys "Toypom" (Sandton)

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Die Tür Ist zu
Die Tür Ist zu

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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Rarest of Swans Masterpieces, 12. August 2015
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Die Tür Ist zu (Audio CD)
Released in 1996 in Germany, Die Tür Ist Zu (The Door is Closed) contains German versions of Helpless Child from the next year's Soundtracks for the Blind and I See Them All Lined Up from Gira's Drainland of the year before. Alternate takes of Surrogate Drones and You Know Nothing, an acoustic live radio recording of Mother/Father and live versions of Your Property and Soundsection make up the rest of the album.

The musicians are Joe Goldring on bass, Larry Seven on double bass, Larry Mullins on drums, vibraphone & percussion, Joe Goldring, Michael Gira and Vudi of American Music Club on guitars and Jarboe on keyboards. Vocals by Jarboe and Michael Gira.

Ligeti's Breath serves as a spacious 9-minute orchestral introduction to Hilflos Kind where Gira's solemn narration encompasses subjects like breasts, existence and mother's milk in a heavily laden voice. Then rousing guitars and drums lift the tempo before giving way to a symphonic section which takes it to Wagnerian heights. Shifting drones maintain cohesion throughout this tour de force which must have been inspired by György Sándor Ligeti's Atmosphères.

The German language infuses their sound with even more gravitas. Ich Sehe Die Alle In Einer Reihe far surpasses I See Them All Lined Up on Drainland. The complex arrangement alternates between atmospheric segments of spoken voice and rousing guitar pieces. Gira's vocoder-like vocals amongst the ambient winds and chimes create a spooky feel.

Surrogate Drones and YRP are the London live recordings. The first has experimental drifting textures and is longer than the studio version. The original of YRP on Cop (1984) is called Your Property. Jarboe interprets this tempo-shifting song with alternating spoken and bellowed vocals for a sharper and more sinister impact.

You Know Nothing from White Light from the Mouth of Infinity becomes You Know Everything (Reprise 1991), quite similar to the version on Various Failures. On this eerie lullaby Jarboe's backing vocals frame the taped voice of a little girl in a similar way to the track Her on Love of Life and Omniscience. The child goes "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" An eruption of massed guitars ends the narration but the spectral melody line returns in gentle vocalizing.

This acoustic version of Mother/Father is abbreviated to M/F and equals the intensity of the studio recording on The Great Annihilator. The door to this atmospheric masterpiece is closed by Soundsection, a live version of The Sound from Soundtracks for the Blind. This gently undulating piece flows more smoothly and is more appealing than the studio take, more sad than suffocating.

Durga and Her Smile of Radiant Vengeance
Durga and Her Smile of Radiant Vengeance
Preis: EUR 7,99

5.0 von 5 Sternen Ein stimmungsvolles Meisterwerk, 12. Juli 2015
Durga And Her Smile of Radiant Vengeance is by far the most accessible of Jarboe's MahaKali-related releases. Durga's darker moments are balanced by still other-worldly but beautiful passages and it contains nothing as uncompromising and extreme as Mahakali or Dark Consort.

There are only two truly vocal tracks, Mother of Changes and Inside the Temple of Changes. Wordless singing is integral on the eight mainly instrumental tracks as her background vocals interact with the atmospheres and instruments. Think of Warm on The Great Annihilator and Under Will on Anhedoniac.

The menacing drums and rumbles that open the first song, A Jewel Shone On Shakti's Crown, are joined by intricate swirling chorales and solo voices rhythmically approaching and receding. These polyphonic waves appear to transcend space and time.

Edgy cello, ominous drones and mournful disembodied voices create a sense of disintegration on Raktabija The Demon, until a fearful croaking voice with an echo takes over. This is one of the album’s eerie moments.

On Durga's Patience, one hears drops of water and the grunts of the buffalo demon Raktabija while a distant choir is barely audible in the background. An uptempo orchestral track, Durga's Patience (Reprise) has surging drones, guitar and vocals over the same grunts.

Shiva Could Not Be Defeated is a driving, uptempo piece embellished by a lively exchange of give-and-take between guitars, vocals and drones. These interactions create the same haunting contour harmonies that make Indemnity so special.

The orchestral piece Blood Horizon resembles modern classical music. Once again the instruments and vocalising interact to form enchanting harmonics. The song comes to a close with a howling wind and anguished spoken words. Lotus Weapon's choral vocals move to a rising and falling pattern with an entrancing echo effect.

The primal Mother of Changes unfolds with surging guitars and drums, an ardent 'Gregorian' chant and charming chorales. Then follows Jarboe's prayer to Kali the 'protector and beloved of time.' This song's sonic lattice remains in the mind long after the music has faded.

Hypnotic percussion characterizes the second prayer to Durga as 'mother of time' on the track Inside The Temple Of Changes. Some of the words are echoed at intervals by a male vocal which contributes to the solemn atmosphere. The two spoken prayers recall the tone poem Scorpion on Disburden Disciple.

The closing track, Shiva Implores Eternally, erupts in robust rock chords that recede for the outro with its melancholy whispers and fragmented vocals. An arresting 'warbling' sound is heard while the track still rocks out which then rises and transforms itself into a type of chiming percussion.

Durga & Her Smile is a masterpiece of intricately layered sounds of multiple textures. Although comprised of many elements, the music is expertly crafted and seamlessly cohesive. The atmospheres may not be of this world but the ominous is balanced by the sublime.

Disburden Disciple
Disburden Disciple
Preis: EUR 7,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen Art songs, poetry and oriental splendor, 8. Juli 2015
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Disburden Disciple (MP3-Download)
Disburden Disciple from 2000 followed Jarboe’s stupendous Anhedoniac album. Experimental to the core, the music generally falls into three categories: uptempo drum machine driven tracks, slow pieces with spoken and whispered vocals as centerpiece and tuneful ballads.

Amongst the faster ones is Scarification, a blend of drum machine and wailing backing vocals against appealing percussive patterns. As the song progresses, the vocals get more and more tortured and intense. Likewise, Bound has a drum machine and lyrics enumerating a list which recalls the song Red from her Thirteen Masks album of 1991. About two thirds of the way it morphs into a full rock song with roaring guitars followed by Jarboe’s wild vocalising in a ricocheting style.

The funky mid-tempo Consume Me doesn’t really fit into any of the aforementioned styles. A male voice bookends the song about a consuming river of fire. Singing alternates with recitals over rattling percussion.

The slithering introduction of Dear 666 leads to a slow art piece with an uncanny blend of near spoken tempo lead vocal and deranged whispers against an insistent riff and atmospheric bass and guitar. A tortured vocal tone surfaces on Under with its fuller rock instrumentation and rolling piano. Its moments of dissonance include howling wolves and a voice which ultimately becomes strangled as on Mother Father from The Great Annihilator.

Rattling chains or tinkling bells contribute to Kiss of Life’s ritualistic character. Among the reverberating whispered vocals and whisper choirs Jarboe channels several of her unique voices, some with a sublime vibrato. Guitars and bass create what sounds like symphonic infusions. Most experimental of all, The Séance is chamber music from beyond the grave. The complicated arrangement comprises snippets of percussion, piano, strings, guitar and cello or violin interacting with a rich array of lead, backing and sampled vocals.

Harrowing in its honesty, Scorpion is a spoken poem enhanced by guitar and slow bass. This aching recital deals with relationships, vulnerability and the wounds arising therefrom. It is the element of resignation which brings forth the most stirring imagery and lyrical beauty.

A low-key drone introduces Forbid, a tuneful song about forbidden love and a burial. The elaborate arrangement encompasses intriguing instrumental textures over rhythmic acoustic guitars. These exquisite textures also feature on the gently undulating Forgive, a poetic love ballad.

The closing track Pure War is an atmospheric masterpiece. An Arabic male vocal chants to a hypnotic percussive beat over the choral backing of Jarboe who only starts singing about three quarters of the way through. This oriental excursion is in the same league as Brian Eno and David Byrne’s Middle Eastern adaptations on the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

This may not be Jarboe’s most accessible album owing to its in-depth exploration of the art song and its extreme experimental approach to the more conventional ballads. However, the searing beauty of tracks like Scorpion, Forbid, Forgive and Pure War make Disburden Disciple a must-have for her fans.

Indemnity [Vinyl LP]
Indemnity [Vinyl LP]
Preis: EUR 24,85

4.0 von 5 Sternen Songs from another World, 28. Juni 2015
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Indemnity [Vinyl LP] (Vinyl)
The vinyl LP Indemnity comprises seven interpretations of songs from Swans and World Of Skin selected from Jarboe’s CD albums Indemnity 1 & 2 plus a track co-written with M. Gira which had never been released before.

Atmospheric classical pieces, powerful rock and an industrial track have been selected for the LP. The familiar compositions undergo melodious and rhythmic transfigurations through striking arrangements. However, the most arresting element is the contour harmonies generated by Jarboe’s layered vocals.

These songs originally appeared on the Swans albums Holy Money, Children Of God, White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity and The Great Annihilator, and World of Skin’s Ten Songs For Another World.

A solemn, insistent drumbeat introduces the first part of Universal Emptiness. Jarboe’s delivery is the most straightforward here. Just over halfway though the tempo lifts as the song expands with fuller instrumentation. Swans’ version on The Great Annihilator (1994), although atmospheric, sounds monotonous by comparison.

On Holy Money, simple but stylish chorales are interspersed by authoritative spoken commands over an industrially pounding background. The blend of spooky vocalising and tinkling cash register at the end guarantees a cinematic listening experience.

The Child’s Right derives from Ten Songs For Another World (1990). This version sets disquieting polyphonic vocals against flute-like pitched drones over pleasing guitar textures. Several of Jarboe’s legion of voices put in appearances, creating uncanny overtones.

The most outstanding quality of this interpretation of the murder ballad Blood And Honey is the juxtaposition of soprano and contralto vocals resulting in a wall of sound effect with spooky whispers in the concluding phase.

Celebrity Lifestyle offers another example of total transformation achieved by tonal and tempo variation buoyed by lilting rhythms. Stunning solo vocals and celestial choirs blend seamlessly with the pitched drones and restrained rock guitars. The ascending scales seals its astonishing melodious power, making it nearly unrecognizable as Swans’ 1994 midtempo drum and guitar track on Annihilator.

The Miracle Of Love is another complete metamorphosis. An uptempo arrangement, lively drumming and lovely rolling piano with multitracked angelic vocals and a jangling background drone. An intricate keyboard pattern rounds it off. The original appears on White Light from the Mouth of Infinity (1991).

On the uptempo droning rock song I Am the Sun, Jarboe’s numerous vocal personalities engage in demented gasps and whispers whilst the statements of the hoarse, grating lead vocal move from the merely disturbed to the dangerously deranged. That’s enough to set it apart from the original rock chant on Annihilator with its stop-start structure.

The elegiac My Tall Man (Live) was co-written by M. Gira and Jarboe years ago. A masterpiece of a dark love ballad – hypnotic, dreamy and tuneful. On a par with the most outstanding Swans ballads sung by Jarboe on albums such as Children of God, Burning World and Love of Life.

The only puzzle is the track selection for this LP. Gems like Saved and Realm from the first CD and Blood Promise from the second deserved a place. At present they’re only available on the respective CDs that are not easily obtainable. The title track Indemnity is at least available as a single in download format.

Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money
Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Brutales Geräusch, feine Momente und unheimliche Atmosphären, 19. Januar 2014
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money (Audio CD)
This 2-disc compilation from 1999 encompasses Cop (LP 1984), Young God (EP 1984), Greed, Holy Money (LPs 1986) and songs from the 3-track EP's A Screw and Time is Money (Bastard).

On the Black CD, the first 8 tracks come from Cop, the following 4 from Young God plus one each from A Screw and Greed. By far the best music is found amongst the last 6 unless one prefers the noise of the apocalypse slowed down and compressed into one chord, two notes, berserk bellowing and radioactive feedback.

The White CD offers astonishing depth and innovation. In this "industrial phase" of Swans, core elements of their later work such as orchestral movements, atmospheric sampling and metaphysical modalities emerge that would continue evolving throughout the band's fascinating first incarnation.

BLACK CD (1984, 1985).
The Cop tracks are auditory and emotional carpet bombing: malevolence, violence, loathing, fear and degradation expressed in roars of rage and howls of anguish backed by equally brutal instrumental dissonance. Difficult to classify, the abrasive snail-paced pieces represent a singular, primal "metallics" where discordant guitar riffs and squalls of shriekback assault one another within and against shuddering drum eruptions. Traditionally delivered vocals first emerge on the Young God tracks I Crawled / RaS / Young God /This Is Mine. The stately ballad Sealed In Skin and the piano-graced closing track Fool represent the disc's loftiest moments.

WHITE CD (1985, 1986).
Since the vulture had morphed into a swan by the latter part of the black disc, nothing disappoints on the white one. Rhythmic coherence, melodic sequences and tonal twists provide sleek, stylish hearses for every form of the rage, anguish and melancholia that persist throughout. Jarboe's voice and keyboards bring harmony and haunting tones plus variation in timbre, pitch and modality. Chorales, preludes and contrapuntal lines access multiple dimensions of nuance and mystery. Subtlety and restraint balance Gira's excesses without sacrificing emotional intensity. In fact, the ominous and sinister assume a more tangible reality.

Time Is Money (Bastard)opens the white disc with Jarboe's vocalising as anchor for the swaying uptempo rhythms, elegantly contextualising MG's mumbling. Despite its odious sentiment, Time Is Money (Bastard) is rather catchy due to the alternation of chanted, spoken, sung and shouted vocals. Likewise, Money Is Flesh stomps along enjoyably, every plodding beat a drop of lube for the fertile industrial landscape.

The beat slows down for Another You where tortured instruments, found sounds and groans reveal the primordial mind of the abyss. The symphonic structure of Another You and Jarboe's fragile and haunting Blackmail foreshadow the "classical" styles Swans would perfect on albums like Children Of God.

A Screw (Holy Money) exerts an hypnotic effect, initially via the well spaced bursts of static and then through the mantra "holy money, holy love". Then Fool #2 undulates like gnawing guilt and pulses of remorse with guitars, drums and piano supporting Michael's aching lament about lies and self-delusion.

Stupid Child's weary recital is counteracted by lively percussion including a startling rattle. The contrast between groaning delivery and intricate polyrhythmic play lends it a certain sedative appeal. Anything For You starts off gently but soon escalates into ever increasing levels of intensity. What sounds like muffled voices may have been produced by instruments and that is where this song's brooding beauty resides.

Ominous vocal dynamics weave Nobody into a distressing highlight and the voices then excel themselves on the second version of A Screw which appears to satirize big band jazz and charms all over again with its chant to humanity's two most beloved deities.

Swans' Heaven has nothing in common with that of Talking Heads where "nothing, nothing ever happens". It bustles with the movement of blood, broken bodies, the spinning earth, misery and suffering. The guitars resonate to those cosmic e/motions with shudders, rumbles and jangling wails.

A more oblique agony characterizes Coward where disparate voices, bewildering dialogues and the refrain "I'm worthless" punctuate the edgy beat. The wretched dislocation of the two aforementioned tracks pales before A Hanging since Jarboe's massed chorales simultaneously caress the ears and amplify the terror – exponentially so where the tribal drums gain their galloping momentum.

Jarboe's delicately disturbing torch song You Need Me fades away too soon but her celestial harmonies and Mike's spooky delivery on Greed haunt one's hair to stand on end as the arrangement subtly unravels. Thus the white CD concludes with a sense of disintegration.

I cannot recommend the first 8 tracks on the black disc. Numbers 9 to 14 are good to great. The white disc gets 9 out of 10. Favourites: Sealed In Skin, Fool, Fool #2, Blackmail, A Screw (Holy Money), Another You, Stupid Child, Anything For You, Nobody, A Screw, A Hanging, You Need Me and Greed. Top Five: Blackmail, Sealed In Skin, Fool #2, A Screw (Holy Money and A Hanging.

Mystery Of Faith by Jarboe (2009) Audio CD
Mystery Of Faith by Jarboe (2009) Audio CD

5.0 von 5 Sternen An atmospheric masterpiece, 19. Januar 2014
This compilation consists of live recordings in Reykjavik, Tilburg, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels, Manchester, New York and Tokyo, plus studio recordings in Chicago, New York, London and Atlanta. The rehearsing sections are from Atlanta and New York. The material covers the period 1986 to 1997 in which Swans and World of Skin were active. The track listing on my copy does not correspond to the song sequence on the CD but it doesn't matter.

Representing eleven years of Jarboe's vocals, keyboards and found sounds, and songs by herself and Michael Gira (separate and together), this impressive album also includes compositions by Nick Drake, Ira Gershwin, Joy Division and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. There is thus plenty of variety in style and presentation, from torch songs like The Man I Love and Song For Dead Time to searing rock such as Mother Father and Black Eyed Dog live.

The general tone of the album varies from atmospheric, even eerie, to raw and powerful live performances. Of the former, highlights include a poignant perspective on the death of Maria Callas called Everything For Maria, the oneiric Dream Dream and the slow version of Mother's Milk. Amongst the outstanding live tracks are Love Will Tear Us Apart, two other versions of Mother's Milk, Can't Find My Way Home with its spookily churning rhythm and the arresting Wayfaring Stranger.

There are also some snatches of conversations and quarrels between band members during rehearsals, which add to the charm and atmosphere of the album. Although it spans more than a decade and various changes of direction in the sound of the band, plus the World of Skin side project, Mystery Of Faith is quite cohesive and serves as a breathtaking display of the anima of Swans.

This collection is more accessible than the early solo albums Sacrificial Cake and Thirteen Masks. Her magnificent voice and superb interpretive skills make Jarboe one of the most remarkable little-known vocalists, in rock and other genres. For more of this amazing music, I highly recommend her collaboration with Lary Seven, Beautiful People Ltd. and Swans albums like Children of God, Soundtracks For The Blind and The Burning World. And of course Jarboe's solo albums Mahakali and Anhedoniac.

Feel Good Now
Feel Good Now

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Kinder Gottes auf der Bühne, 12. Oktober 2013
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Feel Good Now (Audio CD)
This live album was compiled from performances during the band's 1987 tour of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland. It was originally recorded on a Sony Walkman by the sound engineer and remastered in 2002.

Studio versions of all these tracks are found on Children Of God, where the astonishing juxtapositions that first emerged on Holy Money and A Screw attain remarkable cohesion. Keyboards, acoustic guitars and gentle vocals become haunting vehicles of the band's eerie torment, serving as startling contrasts to the abrasive Beautiful Child and New Mind. Thus the music gains an even more unsettling quality than the relentless industrial grinding and pounding of their 'no wave' beginnings.

On Feel Good Now, the emotional extremes still find expression in ferocity and volume, heralded by the primal shouts of the introduction. With the exception of Blackmail and Blood & Honey, the most fragile songs from Children of God appear with rough edges or in feral form with propulsive rhythms.

However, it's anything but 'Children of God on the crest of no wave'. Within a framework of bludgeoning drums, swirling keyboards and polyphonic bass/guitar patterns, churning textures arise that accommodate both the bellowing voice of Gira and Jarboe's exquisitely articulated soprano and contralto. Multiple dimensions and intriguing depth are the result.

Besides hollers and howls, the blistering nineteen minute long Blind Love includes roars, bawls, shouts, yells, whoops, and yelps like those of Alan Vega. Categorising these cries from the event horizons of rage and despair sorely taxes the vocabulary. One of the mutations might be a demented yodel.

Children of God's exquisite Like A Drug becomes a high wired metallic gallop, whilst New Mind gains hypnotic power by its speedier, even tempo and ends as if it were sucked into a black hole. With Jarboe on lead vocals, Blood and Honey's slow pace and droning resonance have a subtly sinister effect.

The intro to Sex, God, Sex might be mistaken for a snatch of Edgar Varèse after which it takes a mournful, meandering course, more anguished than angry. In these ten and a half minutes, the male and female vocals weave a spellbinding tension that overpowers the sound of the instruments.

Frenzied drumming opens Beautiful Child where Gira again finds himself in extremis, which is followed by Jarboe's shimmering Blackmail. She holds the notes towards the end for what seems like an impossibly long time, which adds to the magic.

The intoxicating interaction of female/male vocals returns to adorn Children of God with its dense wall of sound and the spacious Beautiful Reprise Backstab. The album provides 75 minutes of the band at their ferocious and disquieting best.

Feel Good Now is highly recommended to Swans fans, particularly due to the radically different interpretations of familiar tracks which make it much more than just another "live" album.

Preis: EUR 21,62

5.0 von 5 Sternen Eindrucksvolles Manifest des Todes und der Wiedergeburt, 8. Oktober 2013
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Anhedoniac (Audio CD)
This remastered 2004 reissue of Anhedoniac is enhanced by two added tracks – an a capella and an instrumental version of I'm a Killer that bookend the album. Most striking is the thematic and spiritual continuity with mid-1990s Swans. Anhedoniac is closer to the band's repertoire than Jarboe's solo albums Thirteen Masks or Sacrificial Cake, and far superior to the disappointing 2010 album by the reborn Swans.

These emotional tones resonate with many of the original band's moments of greatest grandeur and with Body Lovers' Number One Of Three as the music further explores the styles pursued in different eras of World of Skin and Swans. The narrative and the omnipresent sonospheres ensure cohesion.

One of I'm a Killer's agitated voices warns of "words that draw blood" which sets the stage. Over the title track's melodic loop, the chanting voices summon up a haunted fairground. Then the red velvet wound of Soundtracks For The Blind returns. Later, Anhedoniac Bottle displays a similar pattern, becoming ever more unsettling as diverse voices, including that of a little girl, join in as a bottle hits the floor with a clunk.

The fairground turns into a Cage where a robotic male vocal repeats a phrase that reveals spiritual yearning despite its crude carnal expression. Sudden roars, muffled outbursts, repressed disembodied voices and crashes pierce the rolling thunder and grinding guitar drones.

Then a gentle acoustic ballad charms the listener for a while before the music morphs into pounding harshcore industrial with another unhinged voice. The bellowing, bleating, roaring, lowing and shrieking cacophony of Not Noah's Ark subsides for a brief narration on the primordial "greyish translucent slime."

Another type of terror haunts Mississippi where an old lady recounts an eerie tale to a backdrop of chimes, insects, rumbles and squawks. The ferocious Burn, in the style of Mother Father from Great Annihilator, sears the mind and the ear.

Sorrow leads to the sublime in the numinous track Forever where the weary speaking voice lifts itself up to sing in a painful but triumphant process which is the inverse of the entropic decomposition on Sinner. Despite the lingering melancholia, despair dissolves midway by the intervention of a subtle ululation that momentarily hovers over key words.

Except for a few spoken phrases by a male vocal, Under Will is a majestic lament of wordless vocals and hypnotextures shaped by chromatic, harmonic and modal shifts reminiscent of Warm on The Great Annihilator or Lou Reed's The Bells.

The poem Circles In Red Dirt opens with spoken voice which is gradually adorned by exquisite background vocals. The Finnish band Pan(a)sonic transmutes Circles into a brooding blend of voice, drones and shifting percussive patterns. Panasonic in Red Dirt brings to mind the most striking of what was termed 'intelligent techno' in the 1990s – the instrumental textures of inter alia Autechre.

The gently swaying Sacred Disciple Wannabe and the seemingly soothing Honey adhere to conventional song structure, as the lyrics become the sole vehicle of the theme. Honey resembles World of Skin's torch songs or from another perspective, the intriguing Blackmail from Children Of God.

The legion of voices returns in all their wounded splendour for a final outburst on the original version of I'm a Killer. Thus the chthonic force is spent as this magnificent work concludes with the instrumental version that surges with a different kind of controlled power.

Beautiful People Ltd.
Beautiful People Ltd.
Preis: EUR 18,68

5.0 von 5 Sternen Early collaborative masterpiece by Swans vocalist and composer, 8. Oktober 2013
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Beautiful People Ltd. (Audio CD)
This music of shifting moods and interweaving themes comprises intricate layers of sound. The album is challenging and addictive and mostly not reminiscent of Jarboe's solo work or that with Swans and World of Skin. It's astonishing that no instruments were conventionally employed in creating these haunting textures. Even more remarkable is the cohesion of an album of such stylistic diversity: breezy pop, techno, electro, tribal and industrial collages, folk, spoken poems, lullabies, nursery rhymes, experimental and ambient pieces.

Themes cross musical and emotional boundaries. For example, the major theme of childhood weaves through Bebe Marie, Coruscation, Liquid Bebe Psychedelia, My Bruise, I Know You Don't Like Me, Newborn Child, Show and I Feel Pretty. These tracks represent numerous distinct styles and/or contradictory emotions although stolen innocence characterizes all the darker ones.

'It's ok to be afraid,' Jarboe soothes Bebe Marie over exquisite percussive patterns, glockenspiel and reverberating chimes. The vocals alternate between spoken word and delicate phonation in the upper registers. One gets the impression of walking down a dark tunnel which is collapsing behind you.

Suddenly the scene changes to children playing a ritualistic circle game and the mood swings to mockery as her lilting contralto intones a hypnotic folk /gospel chant to harpsichords and handclaps. Sinister and compelling, A Coruscation warns of cult mind control in a manner that imitates the vocal and rhythmic techniques employed by mind manipulators. "Give up your religion, your skepticism, come along with me now, your mysticism" and it sounds simultaneously rousing, eerie and confusing.

The tale of Bebe Marie resumes in Liquid Bebe Psychedelia, mournful now despite the enchanting mid-tempo pop arrangement with its fuller harmonious instrumentation, undulating rhythms and choral vocals. This track is characteristic of the entire album; upfront many a track sounds like a lovely simple tune but somewhere things are happening to create a state of unease.

A choir of squawking crows welcomes the listener to the abyss, the recital My Bruise with its harp or sitar interlude. Then the deathly voice again, chilling in its resignation amidst the chorus of dark consorts. Still in the childhood milieu, I Know You Don't Like Me is a tuneful, minimalist, semi a cappella nursery rhyme. This brief moment of innocence which speaks of unreciprocated love must also be a send-up of the music hall genre. The dreamy Newborn Child evokes the image of Nico as soprano humming a lullaby to her harmonium.

In lighter vein, a phone conversation between a stalker and a teenage girl introduces Bernstein/Sondheim's I Feel Pretty. The flamboyant, exuberant vocal delivery with its operatic tonal gymnastics, skittering percussion, bleeps, raucous guitars and mock jazzy feel raises a smile so the concluding burst of maniacal laughter is irresistible.

Amongst the tribal types the semi-instrumental Danse Dementia's complex percussive patterns combine with distant wordless vocals for a spacious feel, whilst No has hardcore industrial percussion with muffled, perhaps vocoderized sighs, whispers and no's. Atmospheric ambient introduces L.S.B. where an intriguing call-and-response interaction develops between the torch song vocals and the instruments.

Innovative and exquisitely arranged percussion adorns the album throughout but particularly so on The Witch. This ballad's sitar, xylophone, chimes, pitches and tones are embellished by shimmering vocals, vocalising and whispers, bringing to mind the demented ghost of Cathy in Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights.

The tracks added for the enhanced 2004 release include the melodious techno pop Volcanic Ash Mix which resembles a track on the Swans album Soundtracks for the Blind.

No Mix approaches earlier Swans terrain in its stomping metallic beat and machine like vocal modality. Whereas Warm Liquid Event is a sensuous mid tempo pop ballad, the Warm Liquid Pleasure Mix merges reverb, echo, laughter, edgy percussion and mesmerising chanting into a hypnotic loop. Only about 5/6ths of the way does it start to resemble the opening track.

In the vocals, Suicide Song Mix has something of I Feel Pretty and I Know You Don't Like Me but this is disrupted by the chaotic arrangement which cleverly incorporates gurgling, bursts of laughter, croaking and spoken vocals. Somehow this blends well with the noisy backing in a dance of dissonance.

The thunder of galloping hooves opens Badge of Courage Mix, soon joined by propulsive percussion, resonant flutes, bells, whistling and a perfectly timed repeating reed or chime sound. A charming, stunning arrangement which appropriately ends in applause.

The brooding Unraveling Thread Mix is equally impressive. Vocals encompass Jarboe's spoken poem plus a variety of ominous unclear voices and eerie echoes. Some are slowed down, some in foreign languages, and they fade in and out of the atmospheric rumblings, tinklings, whirrs, drones and other metallic/industrial emanations. Beautiful People Ltd ends on a melodic high with an unlisted mystery track.

It takes a while to gain full access to all dimensions of this album of many moods and multiple mysteries.

storm the gates of heaven LP
storm the gates of heaven LP

4.0 von 5 Sternen Punk songs and slow, sad songs, 26. März 2012
Rezension bezieht sich auf: storm the gates of heaven LP (Vinyl)
Storm the Gates of Heaven reveals unusual aspects of County's work: serious, reflective and profound. The monologue introducing the title track is the only part that may be considered offensive. The sound is a blend of bass, lead & rhythm guitar, drums & percussion by the versatile Electric Chairs.

Embellished by Hammond organ, the title track rages against and laments the suffering caused by religious wars. Anger may dominate but it does not lack humor. Cry Of Angels is an eloquent, even anthemic defense of Enlightenment values on which the guitar textures and the hook around the chorus superbly complement one another.

The special guitar effects, fierce vocals and the subject matter make Speed Demon unusual - and the words are prophetic. Side One concludes with Mr Normal, another mix of angry rant & plea for tolerance that reveals extraordinary psychological insight. Here also the arrangement impresses through dynamic interactions of vocals and guitars.

Side Two opens with Man Enough To Be A Woman where the tempo slows down from the uniformly fast pace of the first side. This song has a rich instrumental mix that includes Hammond organ & synthesizer, whilst piano & Vox organ adorn the ironic and witty Trying To Get On The Radio. What a pity it didn't stay on the playlists long enough (if it ever got on the radio in the first place) as it's quite catchy and should have been a hit.

The psychedelic classic I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night gets a dreamlike though still uptempo treatment - think of Bowie's cover of Let's Spend The Night Together on Aladdin Sane.

Storm The Gates concludes with the mournful track Tomorrow Is Another Day, a reflection on the life and death of a certain Andrea of Warhol Factory fame; it resembles the wistful Sunday Morning on The Velvet Underground & Nico as well as some of the later work of Nico. Acoustic guitar and harmonium reinforce the association with the German chanteuse. County outvelvets Nico & co on this haunting composition with its aching sense of loss and regret.

The color of the vinyl record resembles a type of marble in a blend of mauve, pink, green and white and Martyn Goddard deserves credit for the striking front & back cover pictures. Most of these tracks are available on the albums Rock 'n Roll Cleopatra and Let Your Backbone Slip but Storm The Gates of Heaven forms a cohesive and very special whole.

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