Anna Homler and Steve Moshier - Breadwoman & Other Tales - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Anna Homler and Steve Moshier - Breadwoman & Other Tales

by Rob Taylor Rating:3 Release Date:2016-02-07
Visual arts and music can be a bewildering combination, as I was reminded as I watched Jenny Hval’s performance at the Sydney Festival a few nights ago. Splashes of ‘menstrual’ blood appeared across the white jump suits of Hval and her female cohort, the kind of jump suits you normally see prisoners wearing when their clothes are seized for forensic examination. There were contorted dances designed to apprehend the musical subtext, and at one stage Hval was mummified with toilet paper. Once unravelled, she appeared uncomfortable with this rather obtuse representation of her music.
Bottom line, Hval is a great musician but a lousy performance artist. Sometimes all you need to communicate is already in the music, and further elaboration is simply confounding, and often trite. Hey, we are all terrible consumers, and feminism has a long way to achieve its goals. I get it already ! 
Anna Homler is however first and foremost a visual and performance artist. She conceived of  Breadwoman back in the mid 1980s, that is, an ancient storyteller with a huge loaf of bread for her head. I’m not sure whether it's a rye or wheat loaf, or whether there’s sourdough involved, but it's a mighty impressive cob, and brought to mind John Hurt’s Elephant Man.
Breadwoman sings in a contrived language, literally an invented tongue, so it's anyone’s guess what she’s actually singing about but that’s hardly the point. One hour of this idiosyncratic and unnerving music will set you straight that it's not meant to make any more sense than the hangover brought on by a bottle of 150 proof Sierra Tequila. Except drinking Tequila is infinitely more enjoyable. 
Still, for what it's worth I hear a lot of distressed animals on Breadwoman, particularly what appears to be an excruciating puppy dog yelp as it consumes a live frog. There is also however a seagull opera, clopping horses, a braying mule and a snorting pig, so it's kind of like an alternative soundtrack to Animal Farm. The incantations and spooky electronica are quite good, effecting an industrial ambience over proceedings, but really, it's just a mid-layer of stupefaction. If Brian Eno made music for zoos rather than airports, he might have gone this way.
Chug a chug steam train percussion, the interesting use of rhythm sticks, and some droll chanting make 'Ee Che' the centrepiece of Breadwoman rhythmically, but 'Celestial Ash', the 17 minute closer was my favourite because its Elysian keyboard drone was the perfect anaesthesia. 
Drawing good reviews everywhere. 

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