Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wormwood: Curious Stories From The Bible - (1998)

Like the Resident's 1988 CD God in Three Persons, which is formally an opera of the new narrative type with lots of rhythmic speaking and chorus responses somewhat in the style of the classic Southern talking blues, this wonderful new piece in 20 parts is also a commentary on the more bizarre imagery and smarmy, truly uneasy emotions from the Bible. While being full of irony and postmodernism, it also reaches for that deep kind of soul-shaking experience that is the true wellspring of religious awe before the lawgivers arrive in town. The liner notes offer some truly sane considerations on the Bible as a book and its applications in modern life," ... which vilify nor sanctify the book." Some of the excerpts: "In the Beginning" opens with a terrifying animalistic roar, thunder crashes, wierd electronics, unresolved chords and your general universal chaos. Late night desert sounds and Middle Eastern scales gradually take over. "Fire Fall" features Lot as an old man recalling the burning of Sodom and Gomarrah, with squeaking synth and thick, string-like electronics — "Fire fell from the sky, tears fell from my eyes!" "They Are the Meat" describes the odd visions experienced by Ezekiel as he is allowed to eat only bread and must sleep on his side for 13 months. "How to Get a Head" depicts heavily punctuated music to relate Salome's psychotic obsessions with John the Baptist's severed head. "Cain and Abel," sung by Cain, his brother's murderer, develops some truly mixed emotions of sadness mixed with envy and repressed anger — "... blood drowns the ground, 'cause you didn't need me." "God's Magic Finger" tells with wacked humor the story of the mysterious writing on the wall at Belshazzar's Feast — "It was a finger instead of a singer ... It didn't stay too long." "Bathsheba Bathes" is underscored by floating gamelan music in odd tuning, and tells the story of the killing of David's rival, Bathsheba's husband, arranged by YHWH, who also takes David and Bathsheba's first born to balance the books. "Bridegroom of Blood" features a stuttering Moses and something to do with circumcision. "The Seven Ugly Cows" is built on a funky beat with magnificently skewed harmonies and has a text describing Joseph's rise to power in Egypt and his dream interpretations while in prison. "Burn Baby Burn" is another happily funky number about the sacrifice of the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite — " Soon I will be burning for my ... Daddy. God digs my daddy! " The concluding selection is a powerfully imagined electronic and sound effects tone poem entitled "Revelation." (

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