Lisa Germano

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On The Way Down From Moon Palace, 8/10
Happiness, 7.5/10
Geek The Girl, 9/10
Excerpts From A Love Circus, 8/10
Slush , 6/10
Slide , 7.5/10
Lullaby For Liquid Pig, 6.5/10
In the Maybe World (2006), 5.5/10
Magic Neighbor (2009), 6/10
No Elephants (2013), 4.5/10

One of the most moving voices of the decade was a humble violinist from Indiana: Lisa Germano. Her albums were comparable to the harrowing ending of a thriller. Rather than songs, the carefully assembled elements of On The Way Down From Moon Palace (1991) were humble concertos that straddled the line between country, classical and new-age music. Her mournful melodies were reminiscent of Pachelbel's Canon and Albinoni's Adagio while the instrumental setting was a lesson in psychology. Happiness (1993) "universalized" her grief, but also climbed one tier down into her personal hell, past, present and future merged in her feeble and confused stream of consciousness. Geek The Girl (1994) was both a self-portrait and an allegoric concept. It was both an epic diary of insecurity and a Dantesque journey into the psyche of a girl. It was her most atmospheric work, but also her most personal. In telling the story of her story, and making it the story of all (women's) stories, she performed the miracle of a kind of simplicity bordering on madness. The majestic dejection of the episodes worked like the exhausting grief of a lengthy funeral. In the process, Germano reenacted Nico's most lugubrious nightmares as well as Leonard Cohen's saddest fables. Her songs had become pure existential shivers. Excerpts From A Love Circus (1996) saw the light at the end of the tunnel, although the scene was still unfocused. Leaving behind the claustrophobic excesses of the previous albums, Germano entered a less creepy landscape. Rather than soliloquies, these songs sounded like dialogues between her touching voice and her ghostly violin. But the romantic interlude ended with the maniacal intensity of Slide (1998), back to the inner wasteland that ever more eccentric arrangements likened to Alice's Wonderland.
Full bio.
(Translation of my original Italian text by Nicole Zimmerman)

(This translation needs verification. If you are fluent in Italian and can volunteer to doublecheck it vs the original Italian text, please contact me)

The albums by Lisa Germano are comparable to the bloodcurdling finale of a thriller. Her songs were rituals of victimization, or an exorcism of victimization. Her epic diary of insecurity and paranoia was like a report on someone in a desperate mental state searching for redemption that was only found in reclusion. Her style was long, exhausting, and mournful, terminating in psychological death. She was among the few musicians to have reached their peaks artistically during the 90's.

Lisa Germano, born in 1958 in Mishawka, Indiana, was the daughter of classical musicians, and started learning violin at age 7. After Mellencamp commissioned two pieces for his film "Falling From Grace", Germano gradually discovered her artistic potential.

Germano first recorded in 1991, at age 33, her first album being On The Way Down From Moon Palace (Major Bill). The instrumental tracks, above all the title-track and Screaming Angels, in which she alone played all the instruments (violin, guitar, mandolin, piano, and accordion), situated her style between new age, classical, and country-western music: little concerts of precious tunes and faded contrasts that followed convoluted paths and got lost in surreal visions. At the end of these excursions by the collective soul remained the sensation of the saddest melodies from Baroque music, and Dark Irie really was, musically speaking, somewhere between Pachelbel's Cannon and Albinoni's Adagio. Her songs leveraged her fragile and velvety voice, that did not have the nasally twang typical of country performers nor the roar typical of gospel singers. To accentuate the sense of vulnerability, her arrangements were almost always lacking and muted. Those of Moon Palace were thoughts more than songs. Germano found her vocation in very timid elegies such as Hanging With A Dead Man and Cry Baby, freed by a refrain that, although whispered, grew up unexpectedly from almost silent harmonies and communicated an emotional shock on which the song built every sort of soliloquy. Like withered flowers were the nocturnal blues-jazz of Blue Monday and the local-band style rhythm of Bye Bye Little Doogie. The ghostly way in which she recounted the daily tragedies of women (using only the mandolin and a distanced drum beat in Riding My Bike) was at the same time moving and chilling. Guessing Game and Dig My Own Grave were unfaithful to the blues of Mellencamp but, were duly filtered by a personality that was not rebellious, but rather lyrically feminine, and then were transferred into a more country context, more "typically Caucasian", more domestic, and above all more melodious. The disc was crowned by a track that was practically impossible: a cross between church music and a long, deep breath that was The Other One. Her versatility was like that of the great classical composers but the text was of the dialects and allegories of the great African-American bluesmen. The mournful mood, from a sinner that no longer needs redemption, from the victim of a curse that no one can exorcise was, in addition, a fruit of European existentialism more than blues literature. The complex album Moon Palace went down in history as one of the most original and creative discs by a songwriter, ever.

The album Happiness (Capitol, 1993), attracted attention to Germano, and was a psychoanalytic self-examination that became aware of her weak personality in which her paranoia was mitigated only by the certainty of an alternative. The presence of a truly complex accompaniment and the most serious production (above all in the remixed version the year after) took away something personal from the sound. She used her shell for inspiration to write a universal hymn, Everyone's Victim, that immersed in an uproar of grunge sounds and synth-pop which was rather unusual for her; as well as her anti-thesis, the title-track, which got lost in the din of violin, guitar, and mandolin. The musicality never failed: Energy was perhaps the most insidious refrain - strong, with a heavy pulse, and certainly the most rock-like track; You Make Me Want To Wear Dresses was built on the worldly warble of Joni Mitchell and boogie like Lou Reed, camouflaged in a Celtic reel. The other Germano, the woman who spoke to herself, who communicated with her past and future through parables of failure, was found in Bad Attitude and Puppet; she composed imperceptible songs that often amount to only the equivalent of a stream of conscience in which the infinite refrains of childhood songs reoccur. On the several tragic ceremonial-style songs, where Germano took a breath before she plunged herself into self-lashing, there were ghost-like sounds of Nico. The slow gyration of Around The World, encircled in layers and layers of poignant harmony, and the solemn song Sycophant, imprinted with alien hisses by the keyboards and violins, were 2 of the many stops on her "road to Calvary": the road of an innocent soul that has prepared to reckon with interior ghosts. She had entered into a labyrinth even deeper than when she withdrew into solitude to sing her requiem, The Darkest Night Of All, and it is truly difficult to imagine a night more dark than that. The rearranging of the instrumental tracks expressed perhaps the renunciation of the search for signs. Happiness was the product of a sense of confusion, which was reflected in the music. It was the self-withdraw of a woman haunted by fear, but that wished to go on just the same; indeed that was almost a reason to live itself. Hers was another psychoanalytic case among those exposed since the time of Joni Mitchell, and Germano conquered, definitively, an honorable place among the more creative musicians of the time. The album was revised and reissued under the same title, Happiness (4AD, 1994).

With Geek The Girl (4AD, 1994) six months later, Germano returned to the solipsism of the first work, for she was not ashamed of her fears. It was indeed, for her, a concept of the liberated woman. With a child-like diction, Germano made her protagonist into the sacrificial lamb of modern society, living in the shoes of someone mentally ill who recites her mantra with her eyes closed, hoping that the evil people of the world would magically disappear; thus Germano revived the nightmare of Nico and the sad tales of Leonard Cohen. Her songs became pure existential quivering. Her major gift was a disarming simplicity which set up the most disturbing atmosphere (the confession of powerlessness in My Secret Reason, the sexual disorder of the title-track, and the sense of failure in A Guy Like You). They were songs that thrived on nothing; they were like only an iota of breath or a lone spark which remained in an extinguished fire or a gesture stopped mid-air or being adrift in a sea of encapsulated melancholy. They were abstracts of her life that poured forth from a broken spirit where she encountered hope, desire, anxiety, fear, and delusion. It was a disc that was blazing with the ultimate songs played in a few haggard chords. A large part of the disc was sung and played to the limit of madness, from the rhyme Trouble, on which the background was a happy dissonance worthy of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, to a schizophrenic dialog in Cancer Of Everything, swept away by a jubilation of string instruments. Psychopath was the highlight: an auto-biographical style presentation which relived the tragedy of a woman violently terrorized at home without anyone to rush to her aid sung as a girl softly singing the theme of a popular song (Egidio LaRocca wrote that the melody was like that of the old Sicilian song La Vinnigna). Other unsettling lyrics were found in Sexy Little Girl Princess, on eerie harpsichord, and in Cry Wolf, but her way of telling the more horrendous stories was not one of accusation but of upset ending in tears. This was when the most tenuous of smiles blossoms, in Of Love And Colors and Stars, as if the sky opened up and she fully appreciated the subtle and tender musicality that can be felt in the bones, as if to fall in love with a deaf person. The only instrumental, Phantom Love, was like a symphonic overture, martial and imposing. More than a concept, Geek seemed like a Mass.

The 4th album was Excerpts From A Love Circus (4AD, 1996). The infantile theme that permeated all of her work was immediately recognizable in Baby On The Plane: a gyration of violin, peals from the keyboards, and thunder from bass drum all created an atmosphere which was at the same time youthful but powerless to rejoice. Not melancholy and not nostalgic, but involuntarily thoughtful. The psychedelic merry-go-round of I Love A Snot knew no end to the jingling and sound effects that proliferated around a sing-song recited behind a filter. The dramaturgy of Germano was, in reality, subtle and cunning. The psychoanalytical quality of her musical style came to light in the autobiographical meditation of A Beautiful Schizophrenic, revealed in her sinister dissonances, but camouflaged in her airy refrain. The same Germano that timidly whispered Bruises was a passionless actress, a mediator between a miserable reality and a dream still alive. The passionate waltz We Suck was extinguished by the desolate agreement and dizziness of the piano and violin, once again frustrated by her romanticism. The almost imperceptible blues monolog Forget It, worthy of Nick Drake, had the perverse fragility of a suicide or of insanity. A day-dream style filled Lovesick, and classic dreamy harmony filled Victoria's Secret while hiding the masochist perversion of Nico, from the original Velvet Underground. Also, the most carefree moments mislead the listener: Small Heads, that could have been a catchy pop music hit, was an ode to solitude. Germano stubbornly repeated her neurotic love and insecurity, perpetually abused by life. Her licks impersonated a parody itself, like when she imitated a Parisian singer in Messages From Sophia, accompanied by mournful accordion and solemn piano. Or like when she horrifically observed, with an almost Franciscan tone, the wonders of nature in Singing To The Birds, or within the cloudiness of the cellos in Big, Big World, just two steps from paradise. But, in reality, these were the more touching moments, like when a woman tries to sing lullabies and serenades alone. The phantasmal violin was her second voice, almost always grumbling in the background, but this was just enough to hear a dramatic counter, a clash in the harmony, a warning of uneasiness. From a technical point of view, a large part of the melodies were arranged similar to folk-rock, from the counter of a plethora of instruments, to a shrill tone, to the beats of a march. And somethings, at some point in her songs, were laments played on violin or sung softly, which pulled at the heart. Less terrifying than Geek The Girl, less claustrophobic (thanks also to a pair of eccentricities, like making her cats sing), and immersed in a less imaginative landscape, Love Circus found a way out of the tunnel in which she was holed up.

Howie Gelb, camouflaged behind the pseudonym OP8, and accompanied by the usual rhythm section of John Convertino and Joey Burns (the Calexico), provided the counter sound and the accompaniment on Slush (Thirsty Ear, 1998). A minor disc, one of transition, on which only 3 songs were featured (the mantra of If I Think Of Love, the classically styled lullaby It's A Rainbow, and the solemn garage-rock Tom Dick & Harry), it served as evidence to the crystalline purity of Germano's music.

Slide (4AD, 1998) represented the return to her usual style, the manic intensity of her major works. Only Wood Floors and Guillotine truly sank their claws into her desolate interior, austere and complete, they were entrusted to the piano, and competed with the great intellectuals of rock. Germano, however, found it hard to be comfortable in the role of intellectual: her true personality was lulled into the tender, innocent refrains that welled up like in the desolate song Way Below The Radio. The very romantic "geek" that constituted the core of her ego reappeared in the dissonant whirlwind of Electrified. Perhaps the dream-like feel of the disc was a little too bare, but the cautious melodies of If I Think Of Love needed of a change of scenery. The eccentric arrangements (fairground accordions played like pipe organs, ethereal violins, languid guitar chords, ornamental keyboards, not to speak of the staring pulses) remained one of her musical milestones, in as much as they complemented her psychoanalytic delusions. Crash and Turning Into Betty thrived almost entirely on the unpredictability of the rhythms, and on the arrangements. Reptile was an immortalization of her style, and was anything except triumphal, with the chimes and whispers that followed each other in a forest of surreal sounds and the tired bass drum in the foreground. This "Alice" of rock had not finished her stroll around Wonderland.

Gli album di Lisa Germano sono paragonabili al finale raccapricciante di un thriller. Le sue canzoni sono un suo rituale di vittimismo, o di esorcizzazione dal vittimismo. Il suo epico diario di insicurezze e paranoie e` il reportage di uno stato mentale alla disperata ricerca di una forma di redenzione, che per adesso e` soltanto reclusione. La sua arte e` un lungo, estenuante funerale, al termine del quale c'e` soltanto la morte psichica. Pochi musicisti hanno saputo toccare le sue vette artistiche durante gli anni '90.

Lisa Germano, nata nel 1958 a Mishawaka (Indiana), figlia di musicisti classici, venne avviata al violino all'eta' di sette anni. Scoperta da Mellencamp, che le commissiono' anche due pezzi per la colonna sonora del suo film "Falling From Grace", Germano scopri' poco a poco le sue potenzialita' artistiche.

Germano registra soltanto nel 1991, trentatreenne, il suo primo album, On The Way Down From Moon Palace (Major Bill). I brani strumentali, soprattutto la title-track e Screaming Angels, in cui lei suona da sola tutti gli strumenti (violino, chitarra, mandolino, piano, fisarmonica), si situano al confine fra new age, musica classica e country & western: piccoli concerti di accordi preziosi e contrasti sfumati che seguono percorsi contorti e si perdono in visioni surreali. alla fine di questi excursus nell'animo collettivo rimane la sensazione delle melodie piu' tristi della musica barocca, e Dark Irie davvero puo' stare fra il Canone di Pachelbel e l'Adagio di Albinoni.
Quelli cantati fanno leva sulla sua voce fragile e vellutata, che non ha ne' il twang nasale delle interpreti country ne' il boato roco delle interpreti gospel. Ad accentuare il senso di vulnerabilita' e' un arrangiamento che e' quasi sempre poverissimo, in sordina. Quelli del Moon Palace sono pensieri piu' che canzoni. Germano trova la sua vocazione in timidissime elegie come Hanging With A Deadman e Cry Baby, librate da un ritornello che, benche' appena bisbigliato, proprio in quanto spunta inaspettato da armonie quasi silenziose, comunica una scossa emotiva su cui poi quel canto-lamento puo' costruire ogni sorta di soliloqui. Sembrano fiori appassiti il blues-jazz notturno di Blue Monday e la filastrocca per banda paesana di Bye Bye Little Doggie. Il modo spettrale in cui racconta i drammi quotidiani delle donne (usando soltanto il mandolino e colpi di tamburo in lontananza in Riding My Bike) e' al tempo stesso commovente e agghiacciante.
Guessing Game e Dig My Own Grave tradiscono l'influenza del blues incalzante di Mellencamp, ma debitamente filtrato da una personalita' che non e' ribelle bensi' liricamente femminile e trasferito in un contesto piu' country, piu' "bianco", piu' domestico e soprattutto piu' melodico. Il disco e' coronato da un brano che e' praticamente impossibile, quell'incrocio fra musica da chiesa e un lungo respiro che e' The Other One.
La versatilita' e' dei grandi arrangiatori bianchi, ma i testi sono quelli dialettici e allegorici dei grandi bluesman neri. L'umore funereo, da peccatrice che non puo' piu' essere redenta, da vittima di una maledizione che nulla puo' esorcizzare, e' peraltro un frutto dell'esistenzialismo europeo piu' che della letteratura blues.
Nel complesso Moon Palace passa alla storia come uno dei dischi piu' originali e creativi del canto d'autore di sempre.

Ad attirare l'attenzione su di lei e' comunque Happiness (Capitol, 1993), un'auto-analisi psicanalitica piu' consapevole della sua debole personalita' nella quale la sua paranoia viene mitigata soltanto dalla certezza di un'alternativa.
La presenza di un vero complesso di accompagnamento e la produzione piu' pesante (soprattutto nella versione "rimixata" dell'anno dopo) tolgono qualcosa di personale al sound. Uscendo dal suo guscio, Germano riesce pero' a scrivere un inno universale come Everyone's Victim, immerso in un bailamme di sonorita' grunge e synthpop piuttosto insolito per lei; nonche' la sua antitesi, la title-track, che si perde nel frastuono di violino, chitarra e mandolino. Cio' che non manca mai e' la musicalita': Energy e' forse il ritornello piu' insidioso, forte anche di una cadenza incalzante, e certamente il suo brano piu' rock di sempre; You Make Me Want Wear Dresses prende le mosse dal gorgheggio mondano di Joni Mitchell e dal boogie leggero di Lou Reed, mimetizzati dentro un reel celtico.
L'altra Germano, la donna che parla con se stessa, quella che comunica con il suo passato e il suo futuro tramite parabole di fallimenti, quella di Bad Attitude e Puppet, compone canzoni impercettibili che sono spesso soltanto l'equivalente di un flusso di coscienza in cui ricorrono infiniti ritornelli ascoltati da bambina.
Su diversi dei cerimoniali piu' tragici, quando Germano prende fiato per immergersi nelle sue auto-flagellazioni, alita il fantasma di Nico. Il lento girotondo di Around The World, avvolto in strati e strati di accordi struggenti, e il canto solenne di Sycophant, solcato dai sibili alieni delle tastiere e dei violini, sono altrettante tappe del Calvario di un'anima innocente che si appresta a fare i conti con i propri fantasmi interiori. Entra in un labirinto ancor piu' fitto quando si ritira in solitudine ad intonare il proprio requiem, The Darkest Night Of All, e davvero e' difficile immaginare una notte piu' buia di quella.
Il ridimensionamento dei brani strumentali esprime forse anche la rinuncia a confessarsi per segni.
Happiness e' il prodotto di un senso di confusione che si riflette nelle musiche. E' l'auto-ritratto di una donna attanagliata dalla paura, ma che riesce a deridere continuamente se stessa, anzi ne fa quasi una ragione di vita. Caso psicanalitico fra i piu' scoperti dai tempi di Joni Mitchell, Germano si conquista definitivamente un posto d'onore fra le musiciste piu' creative del suo tempo.
L'album verra` successivemente riveduto e riedito con lo stesso titolo, Happiness (4AD, 1994).

Con il Geek The Girl (4AD, 1994) di sei mesi dopo Germano ritorna al solipsismo del primo lavoro, per nulla vergognosa delle sue fobie. Ne fa anzi un concept sulla condizione della donna liberata. Con una dizione ancor piu' bambina, Germano fa della sua protagonista l'agnello sacrificale della societa' moderna. Nei panni della malata mentale che ripete il suo mantra ad occhi chiusi, sperando che i cattivi del mondo scompaiano per incanto, Germano finisce per far rivivere gli incubi piu' lugubri di Nico e le favole piu' tristi di Leonard Cohen. Le sue canzoni sono adesso diventate dei puri brividi esistenziali.
La sua dote maggiore e' la semplicita' disarmante con cui allestisce le atmosfere piu' terribili (la confessione di impotenza di My Secret Reason, le turbe sessuali della title-track, il senso di fallimento di A Guy Like You). Sono canzoni che vivono di nulla, di un atomo di fiato, di una favilla rimasta a fluttuare nel camino sul fuoco spento, di un gesto fermato a mezz'aria, di un andare alla deriva nel mare magnum della malinconia. Sono spifferi di vita che trapelano da quel sottile pertugio dello spirito in cui si incontrano speranza, desiderio, ansia, paura e delusione. E' un disco che sfuma con le ultime canzoni in pochi accordi sparuti.
Gran parte del disco e' cantato e suonato al limite della follia, dalla filastrocca di Trouble, sullo sfondo di un allegro dissonante degno della Penguin Cafe' Orchestra, al dialogo schizofrenico di Cancer Of Everything, travolto da un tripudio di strumenti ad arco. Il clou e' rappresentato dallo psicodramma autobiografico Psychopath, che rivive il dramma di una donna violentata in casa senza che nessuno accorra ad aiutarla e canticchia bambina un tema da canzone popolare (Egidio LaRocca scrive che la melodia e` quella dell'antica canzone siciliana La Vinnigna). Altre agghiaccianti denunce si trovano in Sexy Little Girl Princess, sul macabro carillon del clavicembalo, e in Cry Wolf, ma il suo modo di raccontare le storie piu' orrende non e' quello dell'accusa, ma quello della commozione fino alle lacrime.
Cosi', quando sboccia il piu' tenue dei sorrisi, in Of Love And Colors e Stars, sembra che si spalanchi il cielo. E si apprezza appieno quella subdola e tenerissima musicalita' che entra nelle ossa, da far innamorare un sordo.
L'unico strumentale, Phantom Love, sembra un'ouverture sinfonica, cosi' marziale e imponente. Piu' che un concept, Geek sembra una messa.

Il quarto album e` Excerpts From A Love Circus (4AD, 1996). Il tema "infantile" che permea tutta la sua opera e` subito in primo piano in Baby On The Plane: il girotondo del violino, il carillon delle tastiere, i botti della grancassa costruiscono un'atmosfera al tempo stesso gioviale ma impotente a gioire. Non malinconica e non nostalgica, ma quasi involontariamente pensierosa. La giostra psichedelica di I Love A Snot non conosce limiti di timbriche e di effetti sonori, che proliferano attorno alla cantilena recitata dietro un filtro.
La drammaturgia di Germano e` in realta` subdola e smaliziata. La qualita` psicanalitica della sua arte viene alla luce in meditazioni autobiografiche come A Beautiful Schizophrenic, rivelata dalle sue dissonanze sinistre, ma mimetizzata nel suo arioso ritornello. La Germano che bisbiglia timidissima Bruises e` un'attrice impassibile, mediatrice fra una realta` truce e miserabile e un sogno ancora intatto. Il valzer appassionato di We Suck si spegne negli accordi desolati e vertiginosi del pianoforte e del violino, ancora una volta frustrato nel suo romanticismo. Il monologo blues quasi impercettibile di Forget It, degno di Nick Drake, ha la fragilita` perversa di un suicidio o di una pazzia. La carovana orientale e trasognata di Lovesick, l'armonia onirica e classicheggiante di Victoria's Secret nascondono la perversione masochistica della Nico dei primi Velvet Underground. Anche i momenti piu` spensierati traggono in inganno: Small Heads, che potrebbe essere un orecchiabile hit di musica pop, e` un'ode alla solitudine. Germano ripete testardamente la sua parte di amante nevrotica e insicura, perpetuamente abusata dalla vita.
Le sue impersonazioni lambiscono la parodia, come quando indossa i panni della chanteuse parigina in Messages From Sophia, accompagnata da una fisarmonica funerea e da un pianoforte solenne. O come quando osserva esterrefatta, con tono quasi francescano, le meraviglie della Natura, di Singing To The Birds dentro i nuvoloni di violoncelli di Big, Big World, a due passi dal paradiso. Ma in realta` questi sono i momenti piu` toccanti, come se la donna tentasse di cantarsi ninnananne e serenate da sola.
Il violino spettrale e` la sua seconda voce, quasi sempre petulante in sottofondo, ma giusto quel tanto che basta per far sentire una controcorrente drammatica, una stonatura nell'armonia, un monito di inquietudine. Dal punto di vista tecnico, gran parte di queste melodie sono arrangiate in maniera simile al folk-rock, attraverso il contrappunto di una pletora di strumenti dal timbro squillante e le cadenze di una marcetta. E qualcosa, all'inizio, al centro o alla fine, sia un lamento del violino o un canticchiare a mezza voce, riesce sempre a stringere il cuore.
Meno agghiacciante di Geek The Girl, meno claustrofobico (grazie anche a un paio di eccentricita`, come quella di far cantare i suoi gatti), immerso in un paesaggio meno sterile, Love Circus trova una via d'uscita dal cunicolo in cui si era rintanata.

Howie Gelb, comuffato dietro lo pseudonimo OP8 e accompagnato dalla solita sezione ritmica di John Convertino e Joey Burns (i Calexico) le fornisce il controcanto e l'accompagnamento su Slush (Thirsty Ear, 1998). Disco minore, di transizione, sul quale figurano soltanto tre sue canzoni (il mantra di If I Think Of Love, la ninnananna classicheggiante di It's A Rainbow, il solenne garage-rock di Tom Dick & Harry), serve comunque a evidenziare la cristallina purezza dell'arte di Germano.

Slide (4AD, 1998) rappresenta invece il ritorno alla forma consueta, alla maniacale intensita` delle sue opere maggiori. Soltanto Wood Floors e Guillotine affondano davvero gli artigli nel suo sconsolato panorama interiore, entrambe austere e compite, affidate al pianoforte come si compete alle grandi intellettuali del rock. Germano e` pero` un folletto che difficilmente si sente a suo agio nei panni dell'intellettuale: la sua vera personalita` e` quella che si lascia cullare nel tenero ritornello innocente che spunta dal desolato canto delle piantagioni di Way Below The Radio. La romanticissima "geek" che costituisce il nocciolo del suo ego rispunta nel girotondo appena dissonante di Electrified. Forse l'onirismo del disco e` un po' troppo scoperto, ma melodie in punta di piedi come If I Think Of Love hanno bisogno di una scenografia mossa. Gli arrangiamenti eccentrici (organetti da fiera suonati come organi a canne, violini eterei, languidi accordi di chitarre, tastiere decorative, nonche' cadenze stralunate) rimangono uno dei capisaldi della sua arte, in quanto complementano a meraviglia i suoi deliri psicanalitici. Crash e Turning Into Betty vivono quasi interamente dell'imprevedibilita` dei ritmi e degli arrangiamenti. Reptile e` un'apoteosi alla sua maniera, ovvero tutto fuorche' trionfale, ma con quei carillon e quei bisbigli che s'inseguono in una foresta di suoni surreali e quella grancassa stanca in primo piano. Questa Alice del rock non ha ancora finito di girovagare nella sua Wonderland.

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Coming after four years of silence, Lullaby For Liquid Pig (Ineffable, 2002) represents a substantial break with the past. This time Germano's whispered laments sound excessively fragile and ethereal (Nobody's Playing, Pearls, Dream Glasses Off, Lullaby for Liquid Pig) and melodically deficient. She does better with the unusually distorted and hallucinated Liquid Pig, resembling a video shot through a violent fit of neurosis, and the extreterrestrial Lies Lies And Lies. Melody is not the forte of this album, but at least three songs stand out for their tunefulness: the shivering, hymn-like Paper Doll, (strings, harpsichord), the music-box lullaby of Candy, and the tenderly upbeat It's Party Time.

By her very high standards, In the Maybe World (Young God, 2006) is an easy and unassuming album. Germano dispenses with her ability to create a claustrophonic sense of psychodrama, and withdraws to a new trench, the piano-based elegy of Joni Mitchell. Alone with her piano, though, Germano often sounds like a verbose obnoxious loser instead of the angelic lost soul of ten years earlier. The reason is very simple: the music is vastly inferior. Whenever the music lacks evocative power, the lyrics lose their emotional power too. Many songs are less than three-minute long, and only one is longer than four. It probably tells how much Germano had to say.

Germano regressed to the format of the chamber lieder for strings and piano on Magic Neighbor (Young God, 2009). The result is evanescent and translucent in Snow, tinkling and enchanted in Painting the Doors, but the symphonic excess of To The Mighty One clearly shows the risks of a nonclassical musician embarking on orchestral arrangements. Best is A Million Times, a Donovan-esque lullabye in an eccentric setting of guitar and noise. There are several eccentric detours, from the demented singalong Suli Mon to the piano-driven folk dance Kitty Train.

No Elephants (2013), a concept about the relationship between nature and technology, is a collection of humble piano ballads that sometimes employ sounds of nature and sometimes sounds of technology with mixed results. Both the idea and the implementation are too fragile to amount to real music. One can salvage Last Straws For Sale and No Elephants which, with better arrangements, could be touching meditations, and Strange Bird, where guitar tones and a beeping phone duet in surreal mimicry.

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