Review Summary: I might throw up.
Do you like stories" I don’t mean whatever 50’s masterpiece about America you may be halfway through right now - I know my Indie demographic well – I mean the kind of thing you had read to you when you were a kid. My personal memories include a flip-book about a jolly pocket postman and another that taught me about the production of bananas. Another book I remember well was about a parentless boy who lived at sea with a couple of friends who got into all sorts of troubles at docks, and another featured a boy called Stanley who was as thin as paper. Looking back, these kind of stories played out with an effortless style that was fitting for a young child and almost lyrical in its nature, and from Dante’s Disneyland Inferno
it’s clear that Sun City Girls read the same stories as me. And I hate that. I hate that the one band who would release music with the simplicity of childish storytelling would be Sun City Girls. Why" Because now nostalgia will make me squirm.
Unlike the hundreds and thousands of other records by the totally feminine Girls - their released discography still isn’t everything apparently, which is a disturbing enough thought - Dante’s Disneyland Inferno
doesn’t transcend genres, it doesn’t jump through musical styles and in all honesty it doesn’t experiment with music. It barely touches
music if it has to. It’s really hard to believe that the acoustic fiddling that goes on is anything canon to the album’s creation, because it’s Charles Gocher’s words that make this album the ride that it is: on about two songs does it actually feel like Gocher takes any notice of the melody below him (“Bitter Cold Countryside” and “Ruby On The Ferris Wheel”) and even here he finds there is still not space enough for his tangents, and his reactions truly say it best: he’ll start shouting tribally one syllable at a time like a spoiled brat (“I. Like. To. Eat. You. And. All. My. Friends. Are. Cannibals. Too
”) or else laugh a simple machiavellian laugh. Whatever is most appropriately oddball, and whatever adds more whimsy to hell’s very own musical.
The album is best shone through on the eleven minute “Geography of the Swastika” in which Gocher is left to ramble inanely such thoughts as “Well, you can eat my holocaust, guys
” and “ Let's take it all out on the geography of the swastika and relax on the sofa of the genocidal opium den
– really, it’s a wonder no singer-songwriter has had thoughts as delicate. Of course, these quotations are dishonest: they’re mere titbits of the song which clocks at a word count of over one thousand six hundred words. That’s more than this review and likely another one combined. Eventually Gocher is himself improvising as much as Bishop is with his classical guitar, and the story digresses into spoken melodic directions and offerings of cigarettes. And when I say Bishop is improvising all the time meanwhile, that is no vague understatement: it’s certainly a two way street, with the improvisation behind the tale meandering between bouts as smoky and jazzy as Gocher’s spiel itself, and then to folksier darker sounds that don’t fit but simply don’t care to. Such sporadic behaviour runs throughout the album and it’s lack of any pattern but that of stories (which also follow no particular pattern), such as “Charles Gocher Sr.”, which misplaces keyboard noises and out-of-time percussion and creates something as deafening and eerie as the words above it. The song goes on to flash subliminal messages that wouldn’t be out of place in any cult horror-flick (when all is said and done, just blast white-noise at your listeners).
To put it all in perspective, we have thirty-five songs – two plus hours – in this exact same sentiment. You’d better ask yourself right now just how much you like stories. If your answer doesn’t include a warmth to gurgling noises and harrowing stories that could have any interpretation from euphemisms to rehashed nursery rhymes applied to them, then it’s doubtful you’ll like Dante’s Disneyland Inferno
. But there is
more than meets the eye to this album and even if these encounters are brief and understated, they can’t be called uncharacteristic of Sun City Girls – what is
characteristic of Sun City Girls, after all" “Bitter Cold Countryside” may be one of the band’s most accessible tracks, which may or may not be due to its friendly presentation (sort of): the band offer up a jolly sea-shanty which gives us a chorus instead of a novella (“And we buried him in the sallows/And we buried him far and wide/And we strayed some more from the gallows/Of the bitter and cold countryside
”) and for once actually sound like a band: the guitar comes to its sense at the same time as the vocalist does, and the trio are in actual fact creating a sing along for themselves, wherever they may be: each member joins in as loud as the other, even if it may just be a happy breather. The song that follows doesn’t break the continuity of the album as harrowing and scary, but “Ruby On The Ferris Wheel” is the album’s second most catchy piece, even if its melody is quite clearly not one of the band’s most original (I mentioned nursery rhymes) and not forgetting Gocher’s intervening conversations with himself. If you want verses and choruses and a structure that goes beyond the double-disc, then Sun City Girls might consider throwing you a freebie here and there.
Dante’s Disneyland Inferno
sums up what’s best about Sun City Girls, which is very much nothing in particular – it’s a sprawling mess, but just how many messes can one make" Sun City Girls have made hundreds, but rarely have they had the same brand of ridiculousness; their most famous release Torch of the Mystics
has a dearth of storytelling and is a fan-imposed “world music” record, a term that could be applied again to 330, 003 Crossdressers From Beyond the Rig Veda
if what came out of that jam session didn’t sound so other-worldly. It’s hard to know just what style of music Sun City Girls would bow down to most willingly because of the never-ending treasure hunt they’ve sent their fans on – surely no one will get their hands on ever single Sun City Girls recording, and yet the ones we have are so radically different. But if the usual, lazy tag imposing Sun City Girls as ‘freak folk’ is to stick, then we can say this of their venture into song writing hell: this album sacrifices pretty much any other demented style the band has (anything crazy) and gives us a concept album of stories as blissfully sinful as one another. Who cares where they are exactly – on “Dear Anybody” the Girls could well be halfway through a stage show, on “Soft Fragile Eggshell Minds” they’re down at the docks and later on “The Brothers Unconnected” the trio sound boxed into a skyscraper office, but it’s the story that counts. It’s the story
that makes you squirm.