Monday, April 18, 2011
I'm doubtful there is anyone reading this who actually owns this CD. I came across it doing some internet browsing. The CD is "Dead and Gone # 2: Totenlieder - Songs of Death" (1997). Although released in Germany, the majority of songs are actually in English.
It's very eclectic, and reminds me of someone making a CD for a friend, just sticking a lot of random songs about death onto a disc. I went on a little journey though, attempting to find some examples of some of the songs and was definitely introduced to some new music. However, I still can't decide if this was a serious attempt at a compilation or a joke.
When I say eclectic, I am not exaggerating. For instance the opening track comes from an alternative rock group from Australia named The Beasts of Bourbon. You can listen to "Rest in Peace" on Youtube. This is followed by a dark piece by the prolific poet, actress, singer/songwriter Lydia Lunch called "Gloomy Sunday" The song, mostly spoken, seems to discuss suicide as the lyrics say "Soon there'll be candles and prayers that are said I know, but let them not weep, let them know that I'm glad to go"
Listening to some of the very old traditional songs like "Whisper Softly, Mother's Dying" (1928) I was struck with the potential history preserved on this album. You'll hear what I mean if you follow the link above to a short 30sec. clip of the song.
One of the most frightening songs of the album is a piece by avant-garde opera and jazz musician Diamanda Galas entitled "Cris D'Aveugle" (Blind Man's Cry) taken from a text written in 1873. The song is full of whispers and screaming. Overall, the song seems more suited to a haunted house exhibit.
Probably the most musically pleasing song to me was the 4th track from the group Miranda Sex Garden. The group is a female trio who generally sings a Capella madrigal music. Their song "Gush Forth My Tears" has been remixed many times. The harmonies are beautiful and the lyrics quite simple; "Gush forth my tears/
and stay the burning/of my poor heart/or her eyes/choose you whether/o' peevish fond desire/alas my sighs
sighs out/still blow the fire"
Finally I must mention the closing song by Gary Floyd "From the Darkness to the Light" (1999). Although meant to be uplifting, in the traditional up beat blue grass tempo, the song's meaning is much more macabre. The lyrics "We are moving from the darkness to the light. Rest has come, our battles done, we've won the fight" are discussing someones actual dying process. What I find a bit eerie is the way musically voices are added to the chorus, as if more and more people are dying. The end, is even more haunting with 2 child voices finishing up this energetic melody, as if they too are happy to be dying.
In sum, a unique compilation of mostly unknown music. If I think of each piece as 'art' rather than radio music material, I can enjoy it a bit more.