Elegant theatricality seems to suit duos from Boston these days, and Dreamchild continue in the vein of their previous work with the striking Lullabies for the Dead. Suggesting everything from goth's dank dreams to medieval atmospheres and twisted cabarets, Dreamchild can be considered fellow travelers to acts such as Unto Ashes, but have their own synthesis to play around with. Cheryl Wanner seems to perform as much as sing, adopting a variety of voices and tones throughout, while the music she and Frank Gerace create similarly goes across a wide range, from gentle folk to modern, atonal efforts. Certainly their literary ambitions are clear enough from the start, with a reworking of Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" given a mostly spare arrangement of harpsichord (or something similar) and bass, though the appearance of electric guitar towards the end makes for a nice surprise.
That spareness continues in many ways throughout the album -- it's not an overcrowded record, with performances reliant mostly on two or three key parts. Yet Lullabies for the Dead is a pretty full album in ways, nearly maxing out its CD length and referring to any number of female figures or archetypes along the way, from Salome to Frida Kahlo. The duo's strongest moments are where they jettison traditional song form in favor of often striking explorations -- "Medusa" could rival prime Laurie Anderson in its collage of spoken word, background vocal keens and calls and rumbling basslines, while "Herodias Piercing" is pure wordless vocal and keyboard interplay.
But more traditional approaches have their appeal -- "Tango for Frida" is exactly that, all acoustic guitar and castanets, while numerous other stringed instruments take bows throughout.
|La Belle Dame Sans Merci / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||8:30|
|La Tête d'Orphée / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||5:12|
|Avalon / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||4:51|
|Salome / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||5:04|
|Herodias Piercing / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||1:32|
|The Double Rose||Dreamchild||2:17|
|Custom Fails / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||3:25|
|The House of the Dead / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||1:31|
|Lullaby for the Dead / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||3:34|
|Forever / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||3:47|
|Darkness Ascending / Dreamchild / John Matthews||Dreamchild||6:06|
|Una Escultura de Huesos (A Sculpture of Bones) / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||0:41|
|Tango for Frida||Dreamchild||4:38|
|The Fountain / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||5:49|
|Salve (5000 Monks Praying to a Falling Star) / Fred Gerace||Dreamchild||6:20|