Saturday, April 11, 2009

Amanda Palmer and Thomas Dutton

Bought two vastly different CDs this week, and loved them both.

Okay. Facebook and Twitter have taken over so much of the internet that starting that sentence without any kind of subject didn't even seem weird anymore. Fail.

The first was Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I've talked about Amanda Palmer before, how I think she's totally crazy and how I love her for it. This record is produced by both Palmer herself and her friend Ben Folds, with an accompanying story by Neil Gaiman (isn't it nice to have friends in high places). The record is slightly schizophrenic, running from slow, melancholy songs to the fast paced, devil may care "Oasis." My favorite, however, is her cover of "What's the use of wondrin'?" by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Her voice, which she usually throws into huge scaling screams and gravelly condemnations, is here so perfect and pretty that it makes a song about domestic violence gorgeous. However the song that to me screams Amanda Fucking Palmer is "Leeds United." Heavy handed piano, slightly broken voice, horns, and huge bold statements make the song so distinctly hers. The website also plays upon the murder theme, with a book and pictures and mystery. It's a great, great CD. Also, the music video for "What's the use of wonderin'?" is beautifully done, directed by Michael Pope, and to great not to put here. I LOVE the shot of Amanda rounding the corner of the door around a minute and thirty seconds in, with the blurred and soft shot as the piano keys fall:

The second was Razia's Shadow, a musical created by Thomas Dutton, the last remaining bit of Forgive Durden. It's set in an alternative universe, about a perfect civilization created by an intelligent community that revolves around love and... stuff. Basically they've created a Utopia, and a disgruntled youth who feels he's being ignored burns it down. The woman he loves leaves him, as well as the entire community, to rebuild far away from him in the light, and he is left to reign over the darkness. A century later, as foretold by an oracle, two lovers, one from the light and one from the dark, find each other in order to reunite the two lands, but tragedy befalls them. The plot is a little sketchy, and things seem to progress at very strange time intervals, with the set up taking about four songs and the ending happening in only one. The action is sometimes too fast and at other times too slow. But it is gorgeous. The songs are sung by an impressive cast of current musicians, from Max Beemis to Brendon Urie to Greta Salpeter. Salpeter's voice stands out among the mainly male cast, and she is the perfect princess. Dutton himself plays the two male main characters, which makes sense as they have similar story lines and loves. The orchestration, done by Dutton's brother, is truly impressive. It sometimes reminds me of Danny Elfman and at other times of something grander, prettier, and more classical. It is absolutely not what I was expecting (some amalgam of scene songs into a trashy musical) and it really something completely different from everything else at the moment. Dutton is touring in support of the record, hitting Boston on May 6th at Cafe 939. I'm ticked because that's the same night as my organic chemistry final, and so I cannot see this amazing stuff live. I'm not even sure how it would happen live, as they cannot take the 13 or so contributing artists all on one tour, but I would love to find out.

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