Thursday, July 10, 2008

Marc Almond - "Heart On Snow" CD

Poor Marc Almond. It seems he is forever known as an '80's pop star' due to his smash success with electro-pop sleaze merchants Soft Cell. But pity (more) the people who think he's irrelevant these days. Through the years, Almond has emerged a world-class singer and highly literate songwriter, painting sordid tales (ala one of his idols, Jacques Brel) in his highly stylized, theatrical voice over a variety of musical styles and genres, from clubby dance to baroque pop to cabaret. His collaborations with such notables as Jim Thirlwell (Foetus), Psychic TV, Nick Cave, Annie Anxiety Bandez, Coil, and even Current 93 prove that he's no 'has-been' by any means, nor has he been afraid to work alongside other strong and charismatic personalities.

This 2003 album is a selection of old-world Russian folk songs (and a few originals, done in a faux-Russian style), and features Almond in duet with various Soviet singers (none of which are recognizable to me). This is some classy, moody work, full of rich and resonant Eastern European vibes, and Almond's voice has never been so full and well-managed. Tracks like 'Just One Chance', with Luydmilla Zukena, wisely juxtapose the operatic vocals of Zukena with Almond's dramatic torch singing. 'Heart On Snow' may seem kitsch to some, but it serves well as a lovely travelogue, and a nice 'jumping off point' for those interested in classic Russian music. (Psychobaby)

Marc Almond's website

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