The third musical probe of 2018 into the twisted compositional mind of Elk Minister’s Great Aunt Coleslaw continues with Pisces.
As part of a 26 part cycle, alternating musical and spoken word albums, to be released through the year at a rate of one every two weeks, I have been looking forward to these regular transmissions fron the ethereal netherworld. The premise behind the exercise is described in my review for Capricorn, the first release of the series, Roger Trenwith taking a look at the follow up Aquarius.
As a Piscean myself I am pleased to report that Pisces is probably the most complete release of what has already been a fascinating journey through the unexpected.
Once again it is the brevity of the album that underlines its strength, there is no time to lose focus and the variety of experimentalism, accessible melody and diverse influences keeps you on your toes, from the glorious opening off-kilter fanfare of Coffee Stick, the chaotic microtonality of Uptown Schoolboy‘s 19 notes per octave coming across like The Flight of the Bumblebee through a haze of very high grade acid, and on through the gorgeous solo piano of Existential Satellite, which is an inverted mirror image of Debussy’s Claire de Lune, and the “band” pieces like I Am The Night where a highly melodic alternative rock sensibility is augmented with plenty of keenly selected bells and whistles (that are neither whistles or bells as it turns out) to give a feeling of real depth with an otherworldly edge:
Where a dark deception lies
You can find me.
I learned from books and magazines
Not digital screens.
I made a scene just for myself
Never needed anybody else.
I heard a song
That changed my life.
Like some device fast forwarding time
It changed the days into the nights.”
I am drawn to wonder what that song might have been as it set the young Elk Minister off on a very individualistic path.
Create A New Existence is ethereally beautiful, an underwater hymn of dark lyrics and disconcerting atmosphere:
I seed my own life
Help me find the answer
One where I am alive
Create a new existence…”
The highlight though is the quirky Political Tragedy, a rolling song of real integrity with woozy rhythms and engaging melody that unfolds organically into Cardiacs fuelled widescreen wonder. Smashing. “This political tragedy seems to follow and swallow me whole…”, one can only guess at what events from Great Aunt Coleslaw’s long existence in past, present and future this could relate to, but it seems quite prescient for current days…
Another lovely release in a series that is turning into a highlight of the year for me. I haven’t dipped into the spoken parts yet, waiting for the whole work to be complete before beginning that journey, but the musical extracts have all been beautifully realised to date, quirky, intriguing, involving and highly listenable. There is no reason to suspect that Elk will not continue on this high quality trajectory for the rest of the series.
Genuinely interesting music that the questioning and open minded among you should seriously consider hearing.
01. Coffee Stick (1:00)
02. Political Tragedy (5:08)
03. Uptown Schoolboy (1:49)
04. Create a New Existence (3:23)
05. Existential Satellite (4:41)
06. I am the Night (5:16)
Total Time – 21:17
Elk Minister – Vocals, Steinway Piano, Electric Bass, Upright Bass, Electric Guitar, Microtonal Organ, Keyboards, Egg Shaker, Tambourine, Synthesizer, Violin, Viola, Oscillator, Theremin, Wooden Frog, Pan Flute, Koto, Dulcimer, Zither, Tape & Digital Manipulations, GeoShred App, ANS Synthesizer, The MayaBoard License
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 10th March 2018
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