In beautiful, clear, high-pitched larksong, singer Jean Rohe commences her artful and elaborately packaged End of the World Show CD, with the spirited Umbrella, a folkrocking number that starts simply but gravitates into a complex mid-section before letting out again onto a smoother plain, a retorno. As the song progresses, we hear many influences and similarities—Immaculate Fools, Incredible String Band, Hometown Band, Joni Mitchell, Melanie, etc.—but well-blended in a distinctive style that weaves jazz and World elements adroitly, joining everything together in a new tribal-moderne mode. Then, in an unexpected exposure, in La Coqueta, as the song fades, a surprising understructure emerges, and one begins to understand that there are subtleties within subtleties here.
Clearly, Braziliana invades Rohe's world but in a smoothly radical reworking, strongly influenced by classical modes while remaining non-derivative, a true meeting place wringing hitherto secluded dimensions none had quite suspected. Ah, but then there's the Joni-by-way-of-Flora (Purim) sound in Red Rover, straight out of the former's Court & Spark or Don Juan's Beautiful Daughter periods. For a foretaste of the highly unusual blend of ancient, modern, and near-future sounds I'm speaking of, check out this video of a song not on the album:
I'd say that Arise, Arise! isn't particularly exemplary of End of the World, but then…nothing on the CD can be cited as standard. Rohe's creativity descends from the clouds to meet what rises up from the earth, locking in heart and mind. In an age when everything is made for money, hers is a bafflingly striking milieu echoing back to a time when figures like Paul Winter were turning to exotic new combinations (after, in his case, a brilliant stint in swing and bop) in order to uplevel creativity and consciousness. Rohe and her generation are doing it all over again, and I don't read very many of my inky compeers noting it, but I sure as hell am delighted to know that, despite all the ballyhoo and foofrah from short-sighted crits echoing my father's stodgy old days, the kids nowadays (and I can say 'kids' because I'm about 1,000 years old lately, at least after the evening news gets done with me) are rapidly coming into their own and we should be very very happy about that: we are, after all, along with previous generations, what taught and inspired them, and they'll nicely surpass us…as they should. When I hear music like this, I'm convicted of that.
Oh, and the packaging is unreal cool: a die-cut, all paper, wrap-around quintuple fold piece of art with all lyrics printed up on separate vari-sized cards with accompanying artwork, the disc itself housed in an inner sleeve with stamp-pressed ID. Definitely one of the ultra-coolest physical CDs I've ever seen.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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