The Clogs fifth full-length release builds on the avant-garde chamber ensemble’s foundation of kaleidoscopic, indie-classical instrumentals by adding equally unpredictable lyrics and vocals. Multi-instrumentalist Padma Newsome, who composed all of the songs during a 2005 residency at Italy’s botanical island paradise, Giardini La Mortella, has crafted a typically labyrinthine and cinematic collection of disparate melodies that draw inspiration from wells all over the world. The quartet is aided in this venture by a trio of guest vocalists including Sufjan Stevens and Matt Berninger (The National), but more specifically, opera singer-turned indie rocker Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), who appears on six of the ten songs that make up Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton. Like all Clogs releases, Lady Walton defies simple description. There are moments of impossible beauty (“Owl of Love”), dense, but structured dissonance (“Adages of Cleansing”), and of course, whimsical, classically minded, indie folk (“On the Edge”), that when consumed all together, feel like a perfectly executed mash-up of Aaron Copland, Dead Can Dance, Bill Frisell, and Shirley Collins.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger