The only possible adjective for The Ventriloquist is 'haunting'. At times, the singer in Ruby Throat—a duo comprised of vocalist KatieJane Garside (Daisy Chainsaw / Queenadreena) and instrumentalist Chris Whittingham—sounds like a 10-year old Rickie Lee Jones and other times like the precocious 8-year old daughter Nico never had, all doilies, ruffles, and lace but dripping with too much of the world too soon, the subsequent fall to introspection bringing on a strange reflection halfway between sadness and a giddy joy.
Whittingham's atmospheres are spare but just as eerie as his compeer's singing, like the distant fog backdroppng Garside in the Gothic photograph to the lyric sheet: drifting essences, dolorous eddies, drear shades, and lurking half sensed things. He holds the terrain while Garside songbirds hither and yon, oft reaching high octaves nearly shattering glass or else fading to a bare whisper. The entire CD is just the two of them but lacks for nothing, completely etched out in funereal and side-dimensional mysteries. Cuts like John 3:16 are quite unearthly, borderline demented, Whittingham's drones mindful of Nico's version of The End.
KatieJane has been working with such artists as the late Hector Zazou and Lone Kent (who put out the marvelous and undeservedly obscure 1994 release Granite & Sand on Relativity). She also collaborated with Dan Schaffer on the comic book Lesions In The Brain, a work about "psychological distress, self-mutilation, sex, defiance…the usual". She is, then, a consummate artist in the larger sense of the word, and that alone should be a signal to the reader that something highly unusual is going on here, something worth paying close attention to, as the reward exponentializes itself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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