Coma Savants

Coma Savant

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This band's debut release is simply delightful. Pianist and vocalist Stephanie Rearick establishes that she is no slouch with the opening track, the band's theme song. Her performance invites comparisons to Nina Simone, a situation that most players would subsequently exploit at great length. The Coma Savants have the courage to keep the length of the piece down to barely more than a minute. Then the band is off somewhere else on a track called "Bloan." In fact, such a wide range of musical styles are brought in, and the arrangements are so well executed as well as cleverly devised that the listener may be surprised to realize that only a quartet is involved. It sounds at times like an octet. In terms of setting an instrumental tone for this bigger-than-life band, Rearick is most out front, her vocals mixed as if a fruit juice smoothie was being made and her acoustic piano setting up the kind of vibe that should appeal to teenaged girls with pierced navels as well as the older generation. She sings in tune, and with an attention to detail that can at times overwhelm. Sections where her singing is contrasted with one or more of the male voices also singing or talking sound a bit like overwrought Bongwater. The Coma Savants' subjects are more abstract than the Ann Magnuson banalities, but the electric guitar madness of Jon Hain will appeal to anyone who enjoys new twisted takes on psychedelia. There is also jazzy, folky, and cabaret material here, generally played with both the precision of a well-practiced band and the flair of the creatively driven lunatic. The rhythm section of bassist Joey Zarda and drummer Jason Socha are just as responsible for the satisfactory state of things as Hain and Rearick. While they all push too hard at times, there are a plethora of bright moments and the potential, interest, and obvious ability for further creations of high quality from the members of this Madison, WI, ensemble.

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