Rachel Taylor Brown - Half Hours With The Lower Creatures
Suppose The Beatles had used "Revolution No. 9" as the lead track on The White Album? You might think about that as you listen to "Hemocult/Care About You," the jarring and eventually disturbing opener to the latest by pop enigma Rachel Taylor Brown. Kicking off a new release with over around seven minutes of toy piano, noise, eerie voices and telephones might be asking a lot of a listener. Yet Brown's daring pays off. Though the track eventually wears out its welcome, it does preview the kind of daring cheekiness to be found following it.
Much of that daring comes from taking on the big questions, as suggested by titles like "Another Dead Soldier in Fallujah," "Abraham And Isaac," and "Passion." Her Dylan-esque, slightly surreal commentary on Old Testament and current religious battles-internal and external wars-are made both creepy and silly, equal parts ambient, bombastic, disjointed melody. That saves tracks like the angry "B.S. (Beautiful Savior)" from attacking religion with tired bromides; she injects new life into spiritual acrimony. Then there is the metaphorical, jarring "Hemocult," a variation on the medical term for blood in the stool.
"Half Hours With the Lower Creatures" chases the better angels while railing at false or disappointing idols. Rachel Taylor Brown plays with rhythms, texts and tests her audience. It is an exhausting, but honest and daring set.
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