Stan Ridgway


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The latest release by Stan Ridgway pairs him with vocalist Pietra Wexstun, of Hecate's Angels. Together they have composed a soundtrack for artist Mark Ryden's latest series of paintings, entitled Blood, and the music accompanied the paintings as an installation at the Earl McGrath Gallery in New York in 2003. The music has been issued in a limited-edition triptych package (featuring representations of the Ryden art) of 7,500. For those unfamiliar with Ryden, he is the now notorious painter whose work is an obsessed amalgam of pop culture kitsch, surreal darkness, and what appears to be variations on the face of Christina Ricci painted over and over again. From bunnies carving meat, to little girls in repose waiting for something bad to happen with a look of cool, dead reserve, to pictures of longing where sorrow, hipster detachment, and dread all commingle, Ryden's work isn't for everyone. Musically, Blood harks back to the work of the company named Acme Soundtracks that Ridgway and his partners created before they became Wall of Voodoo. It's spooky, striking, and deeply atmospheric but lush and melodic, all at the same time. Don't look for grimacing ambiences influenced by Brian Eno here; this is music that broods, sings, whispers, and slithers. There are lush moments of physical beauty followed always by deeper, more sinister emotions. Vocalist Wexstun's wordless voices add so much to the Ridgway compositional method that they layer another dimension on to the tracks and give them a more melancholy or alternately ecstatic feel. For fans of Ridgway's Western noir songwriting, this will be a stretch, but it ought not to be; this is a soundtrack that is cohesive, compelling, and more than a little unsettling. And dare say, it is far more interesting that the artwork it accompanies.

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