OK...are you ready for perhaps the most bizarre and unique CD released this year? The debut from Cardboard Amanda certainly is that, a CD that sounds like nothing you have ever heard, or likely to ever hear again. This is what avant-garde and prog rock is all about people, but honestly, the gents in Cardboard Amanda have really raised the bar for what will now be considered avant-garde. First, a little history...
The band is made up of Francois Louie Camille (who many will know as former Frogg Cafe guitarist Frank Camiola), Christof Christofovich Tuninsky, and Dee Harris. The music was inspired by the true story of a brilliant scientist and inventor Dr. Amanda Mueller, whose complete fall into madness ended in her suicide (apparently she literally threw herself away in the trash). Camille became interested in this story and called upon his old friends Tuninsky and Harris to flesh out the story and make it a reality.
One of the main characters in this story centers on Cecil Grungard, an acquaintance of Dr. Mueller who had one of her voice boxes surgically planted in his larynx (his picture is on the cover of the CD). Tuninsky performs the "vocal" parts on the album, and for the most part they are pretty creepy and unnerving-if you have ever heard someone speaking through one of those voice boxes after having larynx removal surgery, that is the same kind of mechanized vocals you will hear on this release. Hearing "One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four..." over and over again on the song "One Potato", backed up by manic strings (cello, violin) and clarinet is pretty "out there" to say the least, but it's a compelling listen nontheless. As far as the music goes, the band goes for a fairly minimalist approach, with Camille contributing violin, cello, string bass, and percussion, Harris on Indian slide guitar, banjo, harmonica, and percussion, plus Tuninsky on vocals, clarinet, piano, and kalimba. At times you will be reminded of The Mothers of Invention, Hatfield & The North, or Henry Cow, but for the most part these guys sound like no one else.
After a half dozen spins, I'm still not pretending to understand this, and chances are some of you might not either, but in the end you won't be able to ignore it. Cardboard Amanda are onto something here, what that is I couldn't exactly tell you, but chances are you will hear many people talking about this release in the coming months. This is an album that is certainly not for everyone, so if you are looking for something with memorable hooks, lots of melody, and tasty solos, better look elsewhere. However, if you are intrigued by the off-kilter, the twisted, and the viciously insane, grab a hold of this fascinating avant-garde release and get ready for some mind-bending listening.
1. Gaspard De La Fruit
2. Detoxicus Itinerary
3. Pretty Farm Animals One
4. Cerebral Intestinoidal Transdection Process
5. Pagoda Fey
6. Picture Show
7. Grungard's Dream
8. Fever Box
9. Garden of the Sanitational Sanctorum
11. Top of the World
12. Satan Builds a Carousel
13. Chair in the Air
14. Pretty Farm Animals Two
15. Blood From the Twinkle Bird
17. Le Corbusier
18. The Homeless King of Ikaluktutlak
19. Pandora's Box
20. Pretty Farm Animals Three
21. One Potato
22. Globus and the Magnificent Magnetic Reconnection