Reptile Palace Orchestra

On the Wings of a Skink

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On the Wings of a Skink is the first of several independent live albums from Madison's offbeat Reptile Palace Orchestra. It's their second overall album, released just prior to their Omnium label debut, Hwy X. This recording contains only two selections from Early Reptile and none from Hwy X, so there is a wealth of different material here. In inimitable fashion, powerful vocalist Anna Purnell gets things rolling with a fiery rendition of the R&B standard "Fever," but that mood is quickly lost as the band slips into the haunting Seth Blair acoustic piece "Love's Sweet Light." The Arabic dumbek accents the next several selections, including "Cosmic Slop," which Purnell belts out with a passion and force seldom heard from her. Although a live recording, the audience is rarely heard, but the ambience is certainly felt and the clarity is impeccable, making this the ideal type of recording combining the live energy and vibe with studio perfection. The quality of this recording is on par with Penguin Café Orchestra's live Concert Program, in which virtually not a peep from the audience is heard. Given the austere sound of Early Reptile, this band grew immeasurably in the two years that elapsed since their debut.

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