17 Pygmies - CIII: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale Of Love & Quantum Physics)
Album review by Stephen Wake
As a someone who's spent a lot of time over the years browsing
through new music I’ve developed a system that I believe lets me
pick music I’ll enjoy listening to. It’s basically a quick three-step filtering process, and if something makes it to the end of the
final stage then I’ll generally give it a listen.
1. Band/artist name
2. Album title and cover artwork (is that 2 steps?)
3. Track titles
If I had been left to choose this album using my personally effective
(but maybe not very scientific) method of selecting music, 17 Pygmies
would have fallen at the first and I would have moved on. Since the
choice was not mine but came from the Head Honcho here at The Sound of
Confusion I pushed on.
It took me almost two days to find the album title as it’s not
clearly defined anywhere in the press kit. The bio mentions a number
of albums by the band, and this is clearly one of them, I just
couldn’t work out which. I finally worked it out because it was in
the subject line of an email. There wasn’t any associated album
cover, just a small logo in one corner of the press kit, maybe that
Track titles: ten tracks all laid out in upper case (are they
shouting?) all with the same name 'CELESTINA' and numbered with Roman
numerals from XXIII-XXXII. I’m thinking this has got concept album
written all over it and my heart is sinking further. You need a
concept for a concept album and I'm yet find one so far. This was not boding well for me but still I pressed forward.
To the music itself, I think the Pygmies best describe it themselves
“Partly symphonic prog rock, partly experimental, partly sci-fi,
partly indie rock, partly space rock, partly psychedelic, partly
electro-acoustic, (you get the picture)” I did get the picture and
it scared me. The vocals of Meg Maryatt are hauntingly beautiful in their style and
delivery, reminding me somewhat of Julee Cruise ('XXV'), Laurie Anderson
('XXVI') or even Shirley Bassey ('XXIV') but the lyrics of Jackson Del
Rey (not his real name - maybe he’s Lana’s father?) don’t do
her any justice at all.
“GONNA TAKE THE TRAIN TODAY/RAILWAY/STATION, NUMBER NINE/MY DESTINATION'S MISERY/CLICKITY CLACK IMAGINE THAT/THE TRAIN'S ON TIME/SO GO AHEAD AND CRY.”
I almost did.
'CIII: EVEN CELESTINA GETS THE BLUES' is such a mish-mash, that it
took me ages to think of when and where it would be appropriate to
play. I finally worked it out. It’s what I would expect to be
played in a public place to deter disaffected youth and drug dealers
from hanging around too long. There are a few specks of gold here but you’ll be wasting too much
of your life panning for them to make it worth the effort. I think Jackson Del Ray sums it up best saying the Pygmies utilize the “whatever works” aesthetic to get
their musical vision(s) across. Unfortunately in this case "whatever" doesn't work.