After several albums of atmospheric and artsy folk-rock, Seventeen Pygmies made a startling departure with Welcome. The first half of the album has a carnival theme, tied together with effective between-song spoken word pieces by Charles Schneider as a cynical, world-weary ringmaster. The songs themselves have elaborate and theatrical instrumentation that includes banjo, accordion, clarinets, and a duck call. The music fits the theme well, and is at times reminiscent of klezmer music, at times of the work of Kurt Weill.The second half of the album opens with "Visions Before Slumber," a beautiful piece in which Louise Bialik's ethereal vocals contrast with a plaintive solo violin. The music continues in a passionate and mysterious art rock vein, with few of the overt Arabic and Middle Eastern influences that are evident in the rest of Seventeen Pygmies' work. It is interesting to contemplate what might have happened if this band had stayed together, since they had forged a unique and compelling sound. Unfortunately they broke up shortly after Welcome was released, though there are echoes of their music in Philip Drucker's later work with the Jackson Del Rey Band.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard Foss