Reunited with multi-instrumentalist Lary Seven, her collaborator on the Beautiful People project, Jarboe on her second solo album again clearly demonstrates her musical abilities as being no less adept than those of her Swans bandmate/partner Gira (whose own solo debut album, Drainland, was released in concert along with Sacrificial Cake). All songs were written wholly by her, excepting a weirdly jaunty, live radio-session take of the Swans track "My Buried Child," accompanied only by Gira on acoustic guitar. Unlike the constantly varied Thirteen Masks album, Cake has more of a unified feel, being mostly moody and mysterious with echoed or muffled percussion, and it's all done in a distinctly different way than Swans' at-times obsessively structured epic pounding. "Ode to V," for instance, relies on an understated approach throughout, with low keyboard tones and percussive shuffling floating beneath her husky spoken-word recitation and wordless backing vocals. Another quality of her music that gets good play is her ear for, and creative work with, samples; "Surgical Saviour" includes some wonderfully odd reworkings of crowd and orchestral snippets. While familiar religious and sexual imagery and scenarios dominate the lyrics, a more general playfulness appears as well, on such numbers like "Not Logical," a recitation of desirable qualities that are indeed anything but logical, and on the one actual rocker on the disc, "Deflowered," a wickedly barbed analysis of what it takes to play the music industry game as a female rock star, along with what you lose along the way. Another equally striking lyrical thread emerges in fairy-tale-like scenarios, as in "Troll Lullaby" and "Yum-Yab"; both sound playful and quite disturbing, in the best children's story fashion. Not merely an accomplished statement of musical independence, Sacrificial Cake is simply a great album. It should be of interest to anyone who's unafraid of moving beyond the musical norm.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett