Method to the madness

A fearsome threesome brings H.P. Lovecraft to life.

Already stricken by cosmic horror, the Tiger Lillies front a tribute to one of America's creepiest authors.

By Marika Ley
For The Prague Post
May 16th, 2007

Tiger Lillies & Alexander Hacke
When: Monday, May 21 at 8
Where: Divadlo Archa
Tickets: 490 Kč through Ticketpro and at the venue

A cherubic pall of the cosmic cabal permeates the pores in the Mountains of Madness. Or at least it will next week, when Danielle De Picciotto (director of, which screened at last year?s Music on Film ?Film on Music festival) and musician Alexander Hacke (bassist of Einst?rzende Neubauten) team up with the Tiger Lillies for a planned-but-improvisational take on the macabre tales of American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

De Picciotto came up with the idea to collaborate with the Tiger Lillies when asked to create something special for the 10th anniversary of Arena, the multivenue culture center in Berlin. She was titillated by the potential of combining Hacke?s electronic soundscapes and the Tiger Lillies? Three Penny Opera style with her own macabre, yet virtuous, visualizations. An accomplished artist and painter in her own right, De Picciotto moved to Berlin in the early 1980s after graduating from Parsons Art Academy in New York City. A challenged beatific nature is something that De Picciotto is a professional at, having co-founded the dance- and-happiness-fueled Love Parade in Berlin with Dr. Motte in 1989 (just four months before the Berlin Wall came down).

De Picciotto?s illustrations share a common thread with the Tiger Lillies. She describes her creepy, fablelike drawings for children?s fairy tales as ?gloomy and dark, but [with] innocence ? not necessarily a nice innocence, it can be an evil innocence.? It?s an appropriate match for the strange worlds where Lovecraft?s ?Elder Gods? dwell, awaiting their moment to resurface.

Repeat performances are a previously unheard of concept for the Tiger Lillies, whose manic unrehearsed melodies will be paired with Hacke?s cyber-soundscapes. Reconstructing Lovecraft?s allegories via electronic perception of ?an individual being caught up in the greater scheme of things,? Hacke envisions his digital musical contribution as ?the black abyss where the evil things dwell underneath the ocean ? the Elder Gods are there somewhere, hiding in a sphere beyond our reach.?
Within this black abyss, the Tiger Lillies are left to the electronic elements. ?I had this picture in my mind of the Tiger Lillies being in a nutshell boat, being thrown around in an ocean of electronic soundscapes,? Hacke says. ?They are the narrators, the storytellers in this overwhelming acoustic scenery.?

The group constructed the songs of the performance, with Hacke sending select Lovecraft chapters to Tiger Lillies accordionist and frontman Martyn Jacques. ?It?s not only a story told,? De Picciotto explains. ?He took the feelings of the stories and wrote lyrics which seem more of a general meaning or philosophy for certain states of mind.?
Talking to Hacke, it?s almost unnerving how deeply he relates to Lovecraft?s legacy. He says he channels the author before each song. And during the songs he becomes a mad scientist, bouncing off the walls of his electronic lab, reacting hilariously, and even violently, to the Tiger Lillies? narrative musical mayhem.
?I am all of the ancient gods in one,? he growls, adding with a smile, ?you can tell by my head size.?
The dynamic created on stage is magical, mystical and gothically gory. Allegories and aphorisms of ego, subconscious desires, murder and cannibalism are served sweet and tart, with punctuations of falsetto and klezmer. It?s electro-melancholia, a true product of our twisted times.
And sure to be a horrifically good time.

Marika Ley can be reached at [email protected]