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04 October 2012

CD Review: Emily Autunn: "Opheliac"

Most people are familiar with the list of topics that shouldn't be discussed in polite company: politics, religion, and money. To that list, I would probably add one more, "music".

During tonight's Presidential debate (and that's as close to politics as this blog gets, I promise!) I was driving home from a local art organization's monthly meeting (where I had just given a presentation on airbrushing), and instead of the debate, I was listening to Opheliac, a 2006 CD by Emily Autumn.

From time to time, I have purchased music based on a review in a magazine, without hearing any of the music prior to buying the CD. From King Crimson's Discipline, Kazumi Watanabe's Mobo Club, and Danielle Dax' Blast the Human Flower, to Lustmord's Heresy, Faith and the Muse's ankoku butoh and Amy X Neuberg's Utechma, I haven't chosen poorly, yet. (Honestly!

This CD is no excaption.

Now, Emily is probably an acquired taste (though, as a long-time Tori Amos, Bjork, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, and Amy X fan, it wasn't hard for me to acquire it) but anyone who enjoys Lady Gaga, shouldn't have too much trouble enjoying several of the tracks on Opheliac. And the CD as a whole is worth repeated listening.

The opening (and title) track begins with harpsichord (which doesn't sound sequenced), and quickly transitions to a combination of orchestral chords, distorted vocals, and a driving industrial beat.

Autumn's vocals often channel early Kate Bush and Toyah, but much of the album reminds me of no one more than early Amy X Neuberg--especially the second track, Swallow, with its lilting sequenced trills, and upper-register vocals.

Liar ventures into full industrial territory, ala NIN and KMFDM, and shows off the lower register of Autumn's versatile voice. The track does suffer from the repetition of one lyric line--which reminded me of the too-many-times-repeated "I love him" from Bjork's otherwise sublime and beautiful Pagan Poetry.

The Art of Suicide is another harpichord piece, this time with subtle drum-machine clicks and whirs providing the 3/4 signature, and laced with (given Autumn's violin chops) what are probably (mostly) real strings.

I Want My Innocence Back takes us back to hard-edged NIN territory, while Misery Loves Company combines strings, drum machines, and the full range of Autumn's voice, for a song that Laga Gaga might have written for Pat Benator (or vice versa).

God Help Me starts out with a driving beat, similar to much of the rest of the album, but ends with another harsh repetion, this time of the title phrase. Shallot is an upbeat anthem to eagerly-awaited death (!), and until Loreena McKennitt and The Crystal Method actually collaborate, this is as close as we're likely to hear. Gothic Lolita, Dead is the New Alive, and Let the Record Show finish the album nicely.

Although this album isn't as lush as Hounds of Love or quite as polished as Utechma, these are thirteen mostly strong tracks, and I think Emilie Autumn is interesting enough to watch.

The Deluxe Edition of Opheliac includes a second disc with eight additional tracks.

Her new album, Fight Like A Girl, has just been released.

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