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Tori Amos - To Venus And Back CD (album) cover

TO VENUS AND BACK

Tori Amos

Crossover Prog


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Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1999 heralded another swift release from Tori Amos. Inspired from working out of her new studio in Cornwall UK, To Venus and Back consists of a double CD package. The first being new material - Venus Orbiting, and the second a live release aptly titled, Still Orbiting. Beginning with the new material, many would argue this is a return to her material similar to " Under The Pink from 1994, for this reviewer it is an even more refined sound than the superb " Songs For Pele" from 1996 yet almost gothic at times, reference the excellent " Datura" which is eight minutes of swirling, manic bliss. " Concertina" the single off the album, atypical of work in the more commercial arena of her output. A nice tune nevertheless. Other great tracks off Venus Orbiting are " Precious Things" and the beautiful " 1,000 Oceans"

Still Orbiting is a real bonus as it highlights Amos in a live setting where she really connects with her audience, sounding almost Cure like at times with great musicianship from her touring band providing layers of keyboards and guitars pushing outwards in a hyonotic frenzy. Another plus is Amos's ability to improvise on the originals setting unique moods to the songs. Check out " Sugar" and the famous " Little Earthquakes". To this reviewer this was Tori Amos in her prime. Not necessarily the best album but fantastic music all the same. Four stars.

Report this review (#294436)
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nice closer to Tori's 90s work, with live bonus disc

When Tori released her fifth album "To Venus and Back" back in 1999 I remember thinking it was too quick on the heels of her landmark 1998 album "From the Choirgirl Hotel." I failed to give it fair opportunity to capture my attention and quickly relegated it to the back burner of my Tori collection where it sat for ages. Revisiting the album it became painfully obvious I misjudged Venus back in my less patient years. This moody and refined piece of ear candy is a far stronger album than I believed. As an added bonus it comes with a second disc which is a live album from her 1998 "plugged" tour, the first tour where she had employed a full rock band.

The project started out as a collection of B-sides initially, as Amos was not planning to rush back into more writing. The story goes that during a night out with girlfriends and too much sinfully expensive wine, the title and concept for this work "came to them." Soon after, the songs began to come. Venus takes the electronic elements born on Choirgirl and goes further, streamlining whereas Choirgirl had a wider palette, and also deconstructing the heaviness of the Choirgirl band sound in favor of something sparser, perhaps more spacious. I would guess there is a trip-hop influence here as well, at times some of these songs remind one of Portishead, other times the electronica/club experiments of Bjork would seem to figure in. Tori's signature piano has moved as far into the background as it ever had, though it is there and provides familiarity and grounding when the sound strays too much.

Many solid tracks can be found here. "Concertina" is one of Tori's loveliest melodies. So is "1000 Oceans" which is very beautiful and soft, something like "Northern Lad." "Bliss" is a solid opener leading into the trippy "Juarez" with a repetitive series of piano notes over a heavily electronica-inspired beat. My favorites are the "out there" stuff of course. "riot poof" is catchy-as-hell pop at first with a cool high pitched vocal part and then with a shuffling, groovy call-and-answer vocal. Clever and delicious songwriting. Then comes perhaps Tori's druggiest track in "Datura" which features her vocal experiments over a detailed reading of the plants present in her garden at the time. Datura was the one plant that thrived in her garden, which she found very interesting because it is highly toxic and very dangerous (never ingest it, it can easily kill you!) It's an interesting 8 minute track that apparently came from an improvisation session with Chamberlain. The disconcerting vocals sound like psych-rock leftovers, a nice touch on this already bizarre album. Amos was a relatively experienced hallucinogen fan and this is but one place in her 90s work where you can hear that psychedelic muse coming through.

I consider the live disc a bonus personally, and one so good it makes the album a two-for-one really. Venus is a real treat for the established Tori fan although it is not where one should start. Tori is best approached in chronological order in my view, but if you want to pick one or two titles to sample her, go with "Little Earthquakes" and "From the Choirgirl Hotel" as your first picks.

Report this review (#302183)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars From Tori Amos in 1999, TO VENUS AND BACK is a double cd release with a studio album and a disc of live songs. The live tracks are by far much better than the regular studio disc. Only a few songs on the studio disc such as "Bliss" and "Glory of the 80's" do that much for me. The rest I can pass up with no problems. The live bonus disc features good workouts of classics such as "Mr Zebra", "Cruel", and "Cornflake Girl". Overall a 2 star averaging with a 4 star for the live gives 3 stars. Really for true Tori AMos fans only
Report this review (#733585)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
admireArt
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After my "Choir Hotel" stop; next step was what turn to be my favorite Tori Amos album: "To Venus and Back"; nice name by the way. Stripped down after the "hotel" experience; chaos mellows down lyrically but her composition skills expand to new horizons. As if "purified". The opening cut "Bliss" is one of my favorite Tori songs; but as good is the next and so on and on. A perfectly threaded musical work; where no element could exist without the other. As a result we have a glimpse of how Tori Amos´s soul looks after the fire ...Anger still cuts but so does beauty. The Tori kind... 4 Stars....As mentioned my favorite Tori Amos record.
Report this review (#974590)
Posted Sunday, June 9, 2013 | Review Permalink

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