Miss Murgatroid, nome de guerre of San Francisco-based Alicia Rose,
plays accordion in a psychedelic manner: reverbed, distorted, coupled with
She appeared on records by Red House Painters and
Steel Pole Bath Tub.
Her first single was Heavens To/ Hell To (Hell Yeah, 1991).
Methyl Ethyl Key Tones (Worrybird, 1993) is a timid experiment
of dire consequences.
Murgatroid Waltz In G and Hacklespur's Final Tango merely
toy with the genres traditionally associated with the instrument, but
You May Have Not Have Given Side Impact Collisions Much Thought
sounds like early Grateful Dead (Anthem Of The Sun).
The accordion is a source of mindboggling sounds, halfway between the
guitar and the organ.
Shadows On My Wall (Worrybird, 1994) and
Time Theory (Rabid God Inoculator, 1995)
extend Rose's musical ambitions while approaching a noise-folk format
(folk ballad but warped against background noises).
Relocating to Portland (Oregon), Rose got help from guitar giant John Fahey
and avantgarde musician Patrick Barber for
Myoclyonic Melodies (Worrybird, 1996).
Fahey's haunting pieces of the early 1970s have something to do with the
existentialist, transcendental quality of the longer pieces:
the undulating raga of Hellhole, and the
minimalistic essay Mating Rituals (that reaches nightmarish
degrees of sonic angst).
The 13-minute Below The Bellows, blending sustained accordion tones with
Hendrix-ian glissandos, bombardment-like walls of noise, radio signals,
and so forth,
could become a Voice Of The Turtle for the generation of electronica.
Whereas briefer ditties such as Dolls Inside The Walls (a vaguely exotic
hymn in the vein of Enya) and
Ballad of the Panatonic
(a gothic toccata in the manner of Bach) settle for a "noir" atmosphere worthy
of a film soundtrack,
Toys That Don't Care is a surreal concerto for
dissonant accordion and all sorts of instrumental noises
and Brown Dwarf is a threnody for lengthy drones.
Through Alien Empires (Japan Overseas, 1997) is a collection of rare
and unreleased material, including several covers of her idols.
Bella Neurox (Win, 1999) is a collaboration with ex-
That Dog vocalist
and violinist Petra Haden. The sound is slick and the "songs" are formatted in
a measured and relatively regular fashion. Needless to say, this chamber music
for accordion and strings frequently evokes the
Penguin Cafè Orchestra.
The folk element is prevalent in several of the pieces, although pulled apart
from two directions: the neoclassical and the postmodernist.
Kind of Swords sounds like a deconstructed folk melody, an ancestral lament filtered through Picasso's cubist imagination.
By the same token, Chill in the Air is a square dance mixed with an gracious minuet.
The majestic Theme for the Sleepless sounds like Ennio Morricone meets a baroque adagio, performed by a country & western orchestra.
Emotions are hardly visible, except when the dynamic gets a bit extreme, like
in the suspenseful Cat and Mouse and in
Jasper and Charlotte, inspired by the lugubrious geometry of Bach's toccatas.
The best Penguin Cafè Orchestra imitation comes with the
restrained elegance of Bella Neurox, in which the instruments and voices barely caress each other's melody.
The vocals steal the show in at least two pieces:
Duet for Vox (Fancy), whose eerie harmonizing recalls David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, and Train, the most serene and solemn "song", worthy of a religious hymn.
Dance beats and angelic vocals aim Hour Glass at the mainstream.
The overall feeling is of a lighter, albeit more mature, work, one that
does not explore new avenues but merely capitalizes on the experiment so far.
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