This is kind of a show offy disc because both Stetson and Neufeld proudly state: “All songs performed live (no overdubs/loops).” And so we get Neufeld ’s cycling violin and Stetson’s cycling saxophone playing seemingly endless series of trills and melodies.
Despite Neufeld’s excellence on the instrument, the violin does play a kind of support role to Stetson’s sax (mostly because the sax is louder and more obtrusive). But while the disc does sound like a Stetson disc, the violin adds some really interesting textures. The disc opens with “The sun roars into view” and the violin playing a fast two note melody as the sax seems to rise up from the initial static slowly overtaking the song. About 2 minutes in, the violin plays some loud trills that remind you it’s there, but when the sax quiets a few seconds later, the repetitive violin picks up the melody. About half way through the 7 minute song the violin soars. Around five minutes the sax drops away to a single bass note repeated while the violin takes some fanciful runs. A voice, (not sure whose, but I assume Sarah’s) then soars above the music.
“Won’t be a thing to become” begins with a slow bass melody (with audible sax clicks). The violin plays a similar melody—slightly different to accentuate the notes. It’s a shorter piece (only 3 and a half minutes) and these shorter pieces tend to explore quieter moments in an interesting way. “In the vespers” starts with some fast violin notes once the sax kicks in, it adds a new sense of urgency to the melody. It’s all very pretty. The middle turns into rapid fire violin alternating with some noisy sax. As the song winds down, the fast sax notes continue but a bit more quietly and they are accented by long slow bows of the violin.
“And still they move” is a slow piece. It’s primarily violin with the occasional sax note adding low end. It’s barely 3 minutes long. “With the dark hug of time” stays slow but with some incredibly deep rumbling bass notes underneath the squeaky violin. It’s a cool and menacing sound. There is a quiet section near the end which resolves as a low rumble and Stetson’s unusual vocalizations through his sax.
“The rest of us” is a kind of bouncing,thumping song with some high tense violin strings running along it. I love the part where Stetson “sings” the four note discerning riff and the violin plays along with it—it’s the highlight of the disc for me. The 8 minute “Never were the way she was” opens with a low rumble and feedbacky sounds. The melody comes in slowly with some incredibly low notes from the sax. After about 6 minutes the sax drops out leaving just the bowed violin. The last two minutes are a pretty, somewhat mournful violin section with the sax providing low bass notes.
Flight is only a minute and a half and it opens with a gentle static/rain and slow notes.
Given these two great musicians, I expected a bit more from this. Either Neufeld really keeping up with Stetson (rather than accompanying him, which i what it feels like) or perhaps Stetson playing differently to accommodate someone else. I suspect I have just been spoiled by their other works to expect something mind blowing.
[READ: February 15, 2016] Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula
I have really enjoyed Andi Watson’s work in the past. I haven’t read much from him lately, but when I was really into graphic novels twenty years ago, he was an artist I would always gravitate towards.
This is his first book for First Second (he used to do a lot of his books for Oni Pres). It’s a romance (like many of his stories) but with a twist.
The story is set in the underworld. Princess Decomposia is the overworked daughter of King Wulfrun. The kind is old and infirm and never gets out of bed. Indeed, he won’t even eat, declaring that any food is too much for his poor stomach. Of course, he reads Wellness Weekly to get new ideas for broths to eat–but he never likes them.
Since he never gets out of his bed that leaves the Princes to do all of his diplomatic work.
She meets with the lycanthrope delegation and almost has a disaster on her hands because her father has fired the chef. But when they see uncooked meat the werewolves are quite pleased.
She interviews many new chefs and finally finds one who is interesting–Count Spatula, a vampire. We notice that he has no fangs and is quite friendly (and charming, as vampires tend to be). He is also an amazing (supernatural) chef.
The other servants, especially the garlic-headed Skulker, hates this new chef and finds him terribly distracting, particularly to the princess. She also discourages him from making anything with flavor–even though the princess is in heaven with all of the delicious food
When she meets the next delegates from the Yokai, the chef has prepared something special. And it’s a good thing because they are angry at how happy the lycanthrope delegate was when he left. Spatula makes a lemon sponge that is lighter than anything anyone has ever eaten, and it even makes the Yokai smile.
But soon Skulker tells the king about the changes in the castle–Spatula has encouraged the princess to delegate some of her responsibilities! And… he’s serving food to the delegates which is more delicious than what the King himself gets. It’s an outrage! Skulker insists that Spatula be fired–especially once he finds out that the chef is a man and that the princess seems quite taken with him.
Indeed, there’s some romance in the air between the Princess and the Count. And rather than firing him the Princess invites him to go above ground for the annual Thursday of the Dead visit. The king is very upset at this and vows to stop any shenanigans, even if it means getting out of bed and going to the surface!
I have always liked Watson’s minimal style of drawing, although I found this one to be less enjoyable than what I’d used to from him. The characters look very Watson, but the lines are much thicker. He usually uses very fine lines and adds lots of detail. This one felt–I don’t want to say sloppy– but less refined, perhaps.
I also am not exactly sure what age this book is aimed at. It’s a little old to be a kids book (especially the beginning where we see all of her duties) but it’s also a little young to be a teen book (although I think teens would enjoy it too).
I enjoyed most of the overall story it just felt like it came up a little under Watson’s standards.