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