Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Glass Orphans - Wonderland

The Glass Orphans are a collection of Detroit musicians who performed original material as “the house band” for a recent independent theatre production of a burlesque-tinged psychedelic interpretation of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.

For any local bound Lewis Carroll lover who made it out to this freak-ified, strip-tease-laden, sultry rock n roll flavored labor of love, this will play like a literal soundtrack, as the lush arrangements, like the sweet scorch of incense or the billowy comfort of silken red sheets, warms the mind back to the vivid imagery of the baby-blue-clad Alice twirling onto a large metal ring-shaped swing, or the belly-dancing/bungee-dancing caterpillar’s hypnotic sway or the Mad Hatter and March Hare’s unique levitation! Though it does play like a traditional soundtrack, the band and their tunes can stand on their own (if one slides by sporadic telling-references like quoting a Carroll poem as in the psychedelic whirlpool swell of the grand ballad, “Twinkle, Twinkle” or name dropping Alice in the pensive and slow-burning blissful shuffle of “Mad Hatter’s Throne”.) At the end of the day, it’s sturdy psyche-tinged surf, murky, wavy, cerebral at some points, able to shake hips to, at others.

Wonderland’s strengths shine in it’s rewarding, almost-documentarian-capturing of the collaboration of four prominent energies, the disarming blend of the docile and bewitching lead-vocals of Kate Nickerson; the tremolo-heavy, western-tinged space rock style of the heart and soul players, Mike/Hussain/Paul/Benny, (also the heart and soul of Electric Lion Soundwave Experiment), and main songwriters Drew Bardo (of a varying style between blues and punk) and Rabeah Ltief (who delves into 60’s psychedelia and soulful, tripped out ambience). Songs range from jam-able shimmies of tumbling drums and guitars ripping all over in surf-toned glory (with the sax splaying all out in a jazz sensibility) “Five Alarm”; “White Rabbit Boogie,” then to single-ready minor masterpieces of waltzy psyche-pop “My Immaculate Mind,” then to unabashed 60’s-scorched reverb-soaked struts “The Queen’s Inquisition”; or the swirling, downright hallucinogenic “Down Inside.”

The strongest entries include “Alice vs. The Catepillar,” a tone-worshippers movement, very explorative and building and heavy on the pedals for those guitars, with intertwining guitars and snaky sax, and also potential piece de resistance, as much for those cascading guitars as for that perfect synth-led-march as for the trade off of lead vocals between Ltief/Bardo/Jane, on the epic “Mad Hatter’s Throne.”

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