Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Crystal Bright & the Sliver Hands : " The Absolute Elsewhere"
I caught this Greensboro oddity at Dragon-con, so made it a point to hunt them down. They released this album back in May. Rather than try to describe to you what they have going on I'll just dig into the album. Its gypsies on the high seas right from the start. Lead singer Crystal Bright, has a not only a dramatic persona, but a fine set of pipes that she handles with the clarity and precision of any Broadway singer. A New Orleans tinged use of horns keep them from dipping into the same waters as early Decemberists. Despite not singing about murder and rape they are more often than not darker than the Decemberists, especially on a song like "October" where a sultry New Orleans jazz tinged smoke that comes off Brights voice emoting from a similar place as Siouxsie Sioux.
There is a more circus like Klezmer to "Forest of Dreams" which ebbs down into a creepier section. Lyrically their is a hint of Lovecraft on this one. They take a more light hearted approach to looking at the demons of your dreams on "Engastrimythe". The jazzy swagger still explores a wide range of dynamics with the ease of a prog rock band. Their flirtation with fantasy continues on "Sirenuse" which goes from being a jazzy torch song to a elegant cabaret climax. her band has not shortage of chops, if you could imagine Rasputina partying with a more chilled out Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum, you would be getting closer.
"Fall of the Seraph" finds Bright's voice drifting upward into a more delicate soprano as she sings about how rage is consuming a fallen angel. The Spanish "Lowering the Moon" is a smooth transition into bolero. Its not my favorite flavor on this album, but is well executed. 'Earth Above My Roots" goes back into the bands more eccentric vein. This sometimes finds the songs wandering off into more esoteric forms like the ballad "Crescent Moon Bear" which is mainly hear voice set against a dramatic yet slightly free-form piano piece. Then the second half of the album begins to go into a Tori Amos like piano heavy direction. At times this causing the songs to rely heavily on her voice. "Torment" starts like this , but the pay comes midway through as the rest of the band joins in to build the song up. "Choke" finds more vitorol in it's lyrics with a groove flowing underneath it. This finds the band back in the darker place. I'll give this album an 8.5 and see how it grows on me when they are on they are on their own plane, it's just the albums third act that gets mired down in abstract piano ballads that "Lion Heart" does better than even Tori Amos while we are being honest. If you like music that defies the genres of time, then this is for you.