Thursday 10 May 2012

17 Pygmies - CIII: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale Of Love & Quantum Physics)

Album review by Stephen Wake

As a someone who's spent a lot of time over the years browsing through new music I’ve developed a system that I believe lets me pick music I’ll enjoy listening to. It’s basically a quick three-step filtering process, and if something makes it to the end of the final stage then I’ll generally give it a listen.

1. Band/artist name
2. Album title and cover artwork (is that 2 steps?)
3. Track titles

If I had been left to choose this album using my personally effective (but maybe not very scientific) method of selecting music, 17 Pygmies would have fallen at the first and I would have moved on. Since the choice was not mine but came from the Head Honcho here at The Sound of Confusion I pushed on.

It took me almost two days to find the album title as it’s not clearly defined anywhere in the press kit. The bio mentions a number of albums by the band, and this is clearly one of them, I just couldn’t work out which. I finally worked it out because it was in the subject line of an email. There wasn’t any associated album cover, just a small logo in one corner of the press kit, maybe that was it? 

Track titles: ten tracks all laid out in upper case (are they shouting?) all with the same name 'CELESTINA' and numbered with Roman numerals from XXIII-XXXII. I’m thinking this has got concept album written all over it and my heart is sinking further. You need a concept for a concept album and I'm yet find one so far. This was not boding well for me but still I pressed forward.

To the music itself, I think the Pygmies best describe it themselves “Partly symphonic prog rock, partly experimental, partly sci-fi, partly indie rock, partly space rock, partly psychedelic, partly electro-acoustic, (you get the picture)” I did get the picture and it scared me. The vocals of Meg Maryatt are hauntingly beautiful in their style and delivery, reminding me somewhat of Julee Cruise ('XXV'), Laurie Anderson ('XXVI') or even Shirley Bassey ('XXIV') but the lyrics of Jackson Del Rey (not his real name - maybe he’s Lana’s father?) don’t do her any justice at all.


I almost did.

'CIII: EVEN CELESTINA GETS THE BLUES' is such a mish-mash, that it took me ages to think of when and where it would be appropriate to play. I finally worked it out. It’s what I would expect to be played in a public place to deter disaffected youth and drug dealers from hanging around too long. There are a few specks of gold here but you’ll be wasting too much of your life panning for them to make it worth the effort. I think Jackson Del Ray sums it up best saying the Pygmies utilize the “whatever works” aesthetic to get their musical vision(s) across. Unfortunately in this case "whatever" doesn't work.

17 Pygmies' website

Buy the album

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