Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Rattle Rattle

Dorian Wood has a new album called Rattle Rattle, and it sounds enormous. He has been working on it for several years now, and he's brought in an army of musicians to finish it off.

Rattle Rattle brings the weight of a massive personnel. The instrumentation expands and contracts greatly, matching the varying degrees of intimacy in the music. "Americana" has the smallest instrumentation, featuring a trio of piano/vocals, guitar, and percussion. It conjurs up a warped mixture of Gary Jules' version of "Mad World," Boys for Pele, and a broken music boxOn the other extreme, "A Gospel of Elephants/Hpssos" features Dorian's regular live band (princess Frank, Sebastian Steinberg, Leah Harmon, and Michael Corwin), augmented by no-wave/jazz ensemble Killsonic and The Difficult Women, a 45-person choir. Daniel Rosenboom's trumpet adds a nice layer to several tracks, and violinist Paul Cartwright also adds some nice violin touches.

Dorian's time as a member of Killsonic is evidenced by the apocalyptic dirge of the opening track, "Bodies (The Levitant)." His duet with Eddika Organista of El Haru Kuroi, "La Cara Infinita," seems to be the closest thing to a traditional radio-friendly single on the album, while "The Lady" is reminiscent of the micropolyphonic chroma of Ligeti's Lux Aeterna. "Glassellalia" and "Pearline" have been previously released as EP's, and you can hear them on Bandcamp. "We Are The Heart of Human Hair" is like Nick Cave leading a twisted gospel choir, and "O" is a great closing track that gently releases you back into your own world.

One can hear the influence of artists like Scott Walker, Tom Waits, or Nick Cave (who just released an album on Monday...). The softer, prettier solo piano moments bring singers like Rufus Wainwright or Jeff Buckley to mind. But while someone like Wainwright seems content to idly dawdle on the pretty side of music, Dorian is more inclined to turn it over and play with its dirty, surreal, and noisy underside. The resulting contrasts make the songs and performances far more believable and emotionally raw.

On March 5th, there will be a CD release for Rattle Rattle at The Echo with Killsonic and WIFE. If you can't wait, then this Thursday there will be a preview listening session at High Fidelity Vinyl.

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