If, like me, you love Rufus Wainwright and Shakespeare, then this album will make you very, very happy. If, however, you like neither Shakespeare nor Rufus, it’s probably not your cup of tea. This unique collection of Shakespearean sonnets set to theatrical rock music features guests Florence Welch, Martha Wainwright, Anna Prohaska, Siân Phillips, Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher and William Shatner. But the true stars are Rufus Wainwright and William Shakespeare.
The first two tracks are okay, but a somewhat lackluster start. The album truly begins with the dazzling title track, which is far more Rufus than the Bard.
The standout track is “Unperfect Actor,” in which Helena Bonham Carter gives brief poetic recitation before the song explodes into rock symphony featuring Martha Wainwright and Fiona Cutler.
Other highlights are “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” which is sang as a lovely ballad by Florence Welch, and Anna Prohaska’s operatic “Farewell.”
The album also features new, alternative versions of three sonnets Rufus originally recorded for his Songs for Lulu album: “When Most I Wink,” “For Shame” and “A Woman’s Face.”
I didn’t watch The Oscars last night, but I did see Lady Gaga’s powerful performance of “Til It Happens to You” from the campus sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground. And I was so happy to see poet Kevin Kantor among the survivors that took the Oscar stage with Lady Gaga. Kevin’s own spoken word poem about sexual assault, “People You May Know,” was included on our Muruch.com for RAINN benefit album and he was a great support during our fundraising campaign. Kevin Kantor is an incredibly talented poet (and a very nice, humble man) and his should be a household name.
Saul Williams continues to frustrate my writer’s pen (ok, keyboard) with his brilliance and artistry. How can one capture in mere words the expertly, intricately woven tapestry of experimental sound, song and poetry that is his new album, MartyrLoserKing?
Created during Saul’s travels throughout Eastern Europe, Africa, and America, the album centers on a fictional hacktivist in the third world country of Burundi. However, knowledge of this concept is not required to enjoy and admire the album as a whole or its individual tracks.
Even after repeated listens, my head still spins trying to pin down just one element of the album, of any individual song, to describe, yet there isn’t ever just one element at play here.
Every note of this album churns punked up, politically, socially and historically conscious spoken word poetry, hip hop, EDM, Industrial rock, soul, classical and jazz piano, and steampunk clockwork gear sound effects like a musical genre-welding time machine.
This cornucopia of genius is most evident in the astounding standout singles “Horn of the Clock Bike,” “They Think Like They Book Say” and “The Noise Came From Here.”
Other tracks of note are “Ashes,” “The Bear/Coltan as Cotton,” “Burundi” (feat. Emily Kokal of Warpaint) and the aptly titled “All Coltrane Solos at Once.”
Saul will perform at a record release show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn NY on February 2nd before embarking on his European Tour…
Feb 2 – New York, NY – Rough Trade
Feb 8 – Toronto – Tattoo
Feb 9 – London, UK – Rough Trade
Feb 13 – Bristol, UK – BBC Radio 6 Music Festival
Feb 19 – Montreal, QC – Kanaval Kanpe
Mar 3 – Bristol, UK – The Lantern
Mar 4 – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach
Mar 5 – Liverpool, UK – Kitchen Street
Mar 6 – London, UK – The Garage
Mar 8 – Oslo, Norway – Bla
Mar 9 – Turku, Norway – Klubi
Mar 10 – Helsinki, Finland – Elmun Baari
Mar 11 – Tampere, Finland – Klubi
Mar 12 – Jyvaskyla, Finland – Lutakko
Mar 13 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Melkweg
Mar 15 – Riorges, France – Salle du Grand Marais
Mar 16 – Vaulx en Velin, France – A Vaulx Jazz
Mar 17 – Fribourg, Switzerland – Fri-Son
Mar 18 – Geneve, Switzerland – La Graviere
Mar 19 – Bale, Switzerland – La Caserne
Mar 20 – Zurich, Switzerland – Moods
Mar 22 – Antwerp, Belgium – Arenberg Theatre
Mar 23 – The Hague, Netherlands – Paard Van Troje
Mar 24 – Sally-Lez-Lannoy, France – Salle Clovis Defrenne
Mar 25 – Niort, France – Le Camji
Mar 26 – St Nazaire, France – Le Vip
April 9 – Iowa City, IA – Mission Creek Festival
Jun 12 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Muruch.com for RAINN features: Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano, Sandman author Neil Gaiman, The Dresden Dolls’ frontwoman and Art of Asking author Amanda Palmer, Man of Steel‘s Allison Crowe, Midlake, Flogging Molly, Poe, My Brightest Diamond, The Mynabirds, The Voice‘s Kat Robichaud, Nashville songwriter Trent Dabbs, Meursault, Elysian Fields, Pamela Means, Fisher, Catie Curtis, Anielle Reid, Heidi Saperstein, Hannah Fury and poets Crystal Good, Kevin Kantor, and Clementine von Radics.