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The Mountains of Madness reviewed in Times Online

As an accordian trio who perform a surreal cabaret of the macabre, the Tiger Lillies generally draw on strange muses for their songs, but the writings of HP Lovecraft take the proverbial biscuit.

http://timesonline.typepad.com/music/2006/03/the_mountains_o.html

 

The Tiger Lillies and Alexander Hacke

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, March 17


As an accordian trio who perform a surreal cabaret of the macabre, the

Tiger Lillies generally draw on strange muses for their songs, but the

writings of HP Lovecraft take the proverbial biscuit.


In collaboration with Alexander Hacke, electronics guru of

(experi)mental German industrial band Einst?rzende Neubauten, the

Mountains of Madness is a trawl through the American author?s alarming

crossbreed of fantasy, horror and pulp science fiction.


Adrian Stout, the Tiger Lillies' own bassist and musical saw player,

explains: "Alexander approached us with the idea of doing a show based

on Lovecraft's writings, which are full of horror and existential dread

- so it immediately appealed to us."


Lovecraft (1890-1937), who admitted he was "consumed by eccentricity",

is now a cult figure whose frequent nightmares provided the inspiration

for "the Cthulhu Mythos", a warped pantheon of extra-dimensional

deities and monsters.


Taking stories such as The Rats in the Walls and The Cult of Cthulhu

and turning them into songs may sound like the calling card of Gothic

heavy metal - and there are a number of black-clad spectres in the

audience tonight - but the Tiger Lillies peddle a special blend of

German oom-pah, vaudeville and Eastern European folk. An emerald-green

accordian heaves beneath Martyn Jacques?s penetrating falsetto shrieks,

while support is provided by Stout?s stand-up bass and Adrian Huge?s

bizarre miniature drum kit, which comes complete with rubber chickens.


The overall effect has overtones of Kurt Weil, Bertolt Brecht and, er,

Jacques Brel. Hacke, apparently dressed as Lovecraft himself, recites

like a pagan preacher from the author?s letters and tales, providing

the preface to songs about butchery, swine, lost souls and psychic

trauma. His altar full of machinery also produces growling choirs,

ethereal echoes and metallic interjections to add drama to songs such

as the threatening psychiatrist?s report, The Case of Charles Dexter

Ward, and a slow waltz with a more gentle refrain: ?A Violin Plays in

the Night?.

   

Jacques, a sneering character in trademark Pierrot make-up, waistcoat,

bowler hat and ponytail, limps behind a piano for a few songs. But his

theatrical, sometimes operatic delivery is skewed towards black humour

rather than genuine dread, even with couplets such as: ?Deep in the

back of your subconscious mind / The rats are gnawing at you, until you

go blind.?


Following a stint at London?s Soho Theatre in May, the band?s next

project is based on Hans Christian Andersen?s story, The Little Match

Girl ? ?You know, the one where she freezes to death.? In an ideal

world, the Tiger Lillies would represent Britain in the Eurovision Song

Contest.


Posted by David Rose on Thursday, March 23, 2006 at 03:37 PM in Rock and pop | Permalink

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