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Anna Madorsky - Incantation


Anna Madorsky

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A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The key to this 4AD-ish, deceptively chirpy, Gothgloom disc lies in the cover painting. At first, the appearance of a cookpot in the middle of a forest seems to portend warmth, food, shelter, but then you notice that a teddy bear lies to the left, which indicates the presence of children...but it's missing an arm. And the appointment of that outdoors clearing includes a hung painting and rosepot, which points to adults…but is kinda odd. And that pot, mightn't it be a cauldren? What exactly could be simmering within? Where are the children? Hmmm. Now look to the gorgeous pencil drawing of Madorsky (by Olga Zakharova, also the painter) on the liner's reverse. Take a good look at the shadow, at the suddenly elongated nose, the pointed hat, what appears to be a wicked hook. With dawning suspicion, the Bros. Grimm tug at the subconscious.

Anna Madorsky possesses a high almost babydoll-ish voice seeming to encant airy good things until you inspect the lyrics in Broken Artifacts:

With the perimeter set
You can believe you can change anything
With your hands on electrical things
But you stay neutral for fear of swallowing glass

…and in "Guillotine":

A little mogul with a swagger and a gun
He rips two worlds open, I fall into one
It's the alpha, it's the middle, it's the end
He's telling me where, I'm asking him when
While chasing shadows across the desert.

…and understanding arises: like her poetry, the music isn't quite what it seems. For the most part, the soundstage is somewhat stripped down, just her and one or two others, but her keyboards and co-producer/engineer Matt Brown's shimmering picked chords still fill things up nicely, delicately, laying down the filigree most centering Madorsky's work. Thus, you get a bit of Tori Amos, some Lisa Germano, a little Kate Bush, the faintest touch of Rickie Lee within sometimes surprisingly bouncy cuts (Good Ideas, Therapist's Office, etc.), none of which are what anyone would call reassuring or mentally relaxing, harboring a sea of darkness in the light.

Entirely in tune with the almost sorcerous nature of Incantation, and she didn't bestow that title for nothing, the listener falls further and further into the composer's twinkling webwork, chasing butterflies with disturbing colors, skulls etched into the hypnotizing patterns of their fluttering wings, odd scents wafting back. Finally, the arch insects land on…a boiling cauldren in the middle of a forest with a toy carelessly discarded to one side and odd signs of habitation. With tremulous apprehension, the wanderer begins to intuit what's happened, and, by that time, it's too late.

Listen for footsteps.

Track List:

  • Bloom
  • Broken Artifacts
  • Change
  • Pictures of Hope
  • Emerald City
  • Therapist's Office
  • Guillotine
  • Rhea
  • Sandbox
  • Clinic
  • Soundbyte
All songs written by Anna Madorsky.

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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