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Pierrot Lunaire - Gudrun CD (album) cover


Pierrot Lunaire


Prog Folk

3.76 | 105 ratings

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4 stars Electronic High Priestess

Originally a book by Belgian poet Albert Giraud as well as a musical piece by Schoenberg, Pierrot Lunaire were also an Italian group back in the 70s that dug out a musical path of their own. Whether the name is taken from the melodramatic pantomime figure - or the musical soundtrack to this white painted moon lover - remains to be proven, but everything points in every direction with this group. Literally...

I remember when Jim recommended this album to me a little while back - knowing my affinity for the mad and slightly left-field in music. I heard the opener of Gudrun and was absolutely floored! I felt this deep tingling tickling sensation inside me - like a musical salamander dancing in my stomach. Sure thing - I knew I had to get my hands on this record.

Gudrun is a remarkable record - one that fluctuates between electronics, folk and avant guarde tendencies without ever loosing a certain 'togetherness' - that unique musical core. Take the opening track here simply called Gudrun. This one throws it all on the table with extensive usage of caterpillar electronics with a hovering characteristic to them that more than anything remind me of Franco Battiato's early albums. In fact, most of this album wouldn't feel out of place snuggled up against a warm fire with those first 4 Battiato albums - sipping grappa and telling stories of once great pasta cooks and the fabulous night life of Venice.

Add to the worming synthesizers a serrated clean operatic voice executing some creepy and foreboding vocals - like a high priestess with her finger stuck in an electric socket whilst serenading a sailor's crotch. Some weird constellation anywho... And wam bam thank you mam: You've got Gudrun! (weirdly enough that sounds uncannily like the name of a Danish milkmaid from the 19th century...)

These convoluted ramblings probably explain Gudrun pretty well - apart for my rather ridiculous parallels, - but the fluid, expressive and wonderfully progressive usage of electronics this album offers, is really the main deal here. They overtake the folk element of the band, that again much like Battiato's work, tower above any sort of sticker you can throw at them. Then again, it is also the complexity of all the little things here - the way beats and tempers rise ever so slightly - the tempo turning around on its heels for then to run madly in the opposite direction with those Italian operatic female yearnings overhead.

Then all of a sudden you get a familiar feeling listening to Plaisir D'Amour. The melody seems common and right at home, and then bang! you realise that by changing the high pitched female opera singer for a hamburger eating side burn wielding leather wrapped hot dog named Elvis Presley - the tune magically transform into 'I Can't Help Falling in Love with You'..... Yes, this is a rearrangement of the old classic with Italian vocals - a million trillion miles away from home - with a murky, demented fairground feel to it - like had you been sitting with your newly found love in an unstoppable carousel after 4 pounds of bacon soft-ice...

Just like most culinary feats need something that opposes the prevailing ingredients of the dish - something tangy, salty, sweet or hot - this album too holds that little extra that manages to cut through the larval unspecified mush of the synthesizers. Mostly that turns out to be the piano. It splits open the textures of the music - dissects it and then conjures up an idiosyncratic melody line on which the vocals take their cue from. It's not that Gudrun is a lean mean fighting machine - stripped down to a few epochal instruments, -no it is chuck full of exotic and vivacious features such as organ, spinet, cembalo, Glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, recorder, tambourine, violin, mandoline, harpsichord, Shaj Baja, zither tirolese, sitar and the odd bell chimes - yet it is the alterations between the high priestess, electronics and piano that truly make this album a thing of mad, clumsy and refined elegance.

Recommended to all you pantomime fans out there! Buy this astonishing record instead of your next bash of white make-up. You won't regret it - not even slightly.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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