14 Rounds with the Killer Blondes

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Recorded while Atto Attie was holding down his regular gig as bassist for the Los Angeles goth rockers Darling Violetta (best known for their appearances on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and their theme for its spin-off, Angel), his solo debut is considerably different from the harsher and more processed music of his parent band. Vaguely classical piano motifs decorate and drive these low-key but pretty songs. The softer end of British progressive music of the late '60s and early '70s -- think Renaissance or Barclay James Harvest rather than Emerson Lake and Palmer -- sounds like it might be an influence, as does the more lyrical side of Frank Zappa's compositions, particularly on the turbulent but controlled title track. Nino Rota's soundtrack work is an even clearer influence; the piano, cello, and found-sound instrumental "Fellini's Chin" sounds like one of Rota's themes for the Italian cinema master's classic films, and it's the finest piece here. Hints of Atto's other life as a goth show up occasionally, particularly in his sometimes overdramatic vocals and occasionally pretentious lyrics ("Compromising Polaroids of the Anti-Christ," anymore?), but his guitar, keyboard, and arranging skills are first-rate.

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