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Evangelista, "Hello, Voyager"

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cover imageTaking for the name of her band the title of her previous album, Carla Bozulich's latest broadcast is as unsettling as it is beautiful. Crushing No Wave-style rhythms sit beside milder, contemplative songs; the contrasts making for an album that in lesser hands could end up sounding disjointed and fragmented but, thanks to Bozulich's vision and the stellar cast of musicians accompanying her, Hello, Voyager is more than a collection of songs on a CD. It is a call to arms against all that is wrong with the world.

 

Constellation

Hello, Voyager is quite simply a joy of an album in terms of quality but not necessarily a joy to listen to. Throughout the album Bozulich comes across like some middle ground between Diamanda Galás and Nina Simone. Except there is no middle ground but a precipice located a little off in the distance where Bozulich can survey the musical panorama, pick out what she likes and create her own landscape. The grinding stomp of "Smooth Jazz" (a complete misnomer if ever there was one) and the harrowing, wordless lament of "The Frozen Dress" both reach that painfully human part of the soul that Galás always strikes at. However, there is never that sense of disembodied rage that you get in Galás' work. Instead Bozulich is more like a neighbor (one that you know well enough to say hello to but not much more) coming up and telling you some horrific news. "The Frozen Dress," in particular, makes my stomach sink in an unpleasant, anxious way.

That the polar opposite of these songs exist on the same album in perfect harmony is not only surprising but damn impressive. "The Blue Room" features some wonderful string arrangements that lift already captivating Bozulich's voice like pallbearers with the coffin of a hero: with grace, dignity and utter respect. "Paper Kitten Claw" is equally heartbreaking in its quiet solemnity. That Bozulich (and her accompanying band) can balance all these moods on one album is a true sign of her immense talent.

In short, this album hits all the right buttons. It is angry and full of passion yet can also by calming and delicate. Like an evangelist, she works up the audience (in this case, just me) into a religious fervour but this Evangelista is more of an insurrectionist than a messenger of god. And this is the abiding feeling that comes through all the songs, that Bozulich is singing direct from the front lines of a war on societies woes. Although she does not offer answers, her role is that of documentation. She leads us through these horrors: "You are with us now, we are all the same." It is a scary ride but thankfully escape is only a stop button away.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 30 March 2008 15:51  


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