Prior to O' Doubt O' Stars, Ruby Throat issued two scintillating, disturbing, narcotizingly surreal discs (here and here), and this latest is even more dreamily unsettling, a fact made clear as the opening cut, Stone Dress, slowly builds its ghostly presence until breaking into a noisy, messy, marvelously impinging finale that invades from the eyes backwards into the brain through the ears. The recording of Katiejane Garside's voice in this cut especially is almost disarming, spooky, as its cleverly engineered three-dimensionality gives the impression that she just quietly stepped out of the speakers and is standing right behind you, a sonic Ligeia bringing home an Usherine pastorale you might not find repose in, though it lacks not at all for elegant nightmares and cascading heebie-jeebies.
That's Katiejane's strange gift, that seductively creepy Blue Velvet atmosphere and little girl voice luring sailors, dilettantes, and innocent passersby onto the rocks, whereupon dreary normalcy is shattered, never to be quite fully recovered, ever, no matter how many meetings of Schizoids Anonymous might be attended. The incubus of the duo, guitarist Christopher Whittingham, is either an ensorceled victim throwing out twisted landscapes, sometimes deceptively normalized wheatfields, or a co-provocateur purposely insinuating his lines beneath the singer's waves of soma and raw edgy nerves.
O' Doubt O' Stars is beautifully packaged, a handmade affair consisting of funereal bow, tipped-in cover photo, inner b&w snapshots of moody locales and the just as somber artists, pages with onionskin/vellum interleaves, everything entirely appropriate to the psychotic/suicidal/existential/depressoid/gorgeous ambience of the music…oh, and the CD too. I suppose one could lump it in with the weird-folk movement by way of John Cale-ish prog, Nico-tine retrogression, and Lovecraftianly haunted backwoods. However you care to let the CD infest you, though, I suggest not dallying in procuring a copy, as this first pressing is limited to 500 copies, and I don't see it languishing due to any lack of morbid curiosity, gothic novenas, or rapt devotion.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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