Orion Rigel Dommisse
"What I Want from You Is Sweet"

(Language of Stone 2007)Orion Rigel Dommisse - What I Want from You Is Sweet

Death lurks between the staves and rests of "What I Want from You Is Sweet," the debut record for both singer/songwriter Orion Rigel Dommisse and Espers' Greg Weeks' Language of Stone label.

But it's a cheerful death: a ring of posies around the wrist of the disinterred body of an ancestor. A great great aunt, perhaps, who whispers with honey breath a reminder: make your bed, wash behind your ears. Or instructions: "Fake your death if you need to...leave the body in your bed/covr't with a sheet like you were murdered in your sleep/you could burn your house down/leave some bones/make sure the bones look something like your own."

Domisse's brand of beauty here is overwhelming, perplexing. Like so much to come out of the so-called "New Weird America" (that's a coinage from British press, not ours, or so I've read) the instruments and voicings are antique: pizzicato and bowed violin and cello, vibraphones and a bell and a bone (!) for the only percussion, spooky Wurlitzers and synths. Driving it all is Orion's falsetto lilt. Like Joanna Newsom (an artist with whom she is unfairly compared, although I can't resist it just this once), she pushes her warm, middle-range voice into the upper registers; the effect can be challenging. Her histrionics veer dangerously close to sentimental, and yet, through song after song, she remains true to her rustic, macabre sensibility. This is a record to be enjoyed and admired.

The blurry lyrics on a standout track, "Alice and Sarah," remained a mystery even after repeated listens, but I'm fairly certain things end tragically for the two--in a gingerbread house or in a dark forest, I'm guessing. The chorus of my most favorite song, "Suicide Kiss (Because Dead)," builds to a climax as satisfying as an icepick's plunge into a villain's heart.

Like the lyrical otherworlds of Tom Waits or Nick Cave, it's dizzying fun to listen to. Just pray you don't end up there.

A-

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