Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Review of Lo Galluccio's "Being Visited" by Regie O'Hare Gibson

Hip-nogogic Exorseduction: Being Visited by the Queen from Mars
A Review of Lo Galluccio’s “Being Visited.”

By Regie O’Hare Gibson

With her concept album “Being Visited”, multi-talented singer, actress, poet and memoirist Lo Galluccio delivers a velvet pile driver of an offering. In this effort, Galluccio adopts the persona of the “Queen from Mars”—a pink haired, siren-like waif who, like Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” (sans androgyny), is a visitor come to observe our world.

From the first notes of the flagship tune Creamsplit we make contact with the Queen’s world of hip logic. A world infused with funky congas and a bass line tight enough to slit wrists. This kind of scaled down instrumentation permeates Galluccio’s “Being Visited” (a welcome change in an era of over-produced music projects). It would be a mistake, however, to assume in this case, simple instrumentation equals anorexic sound. For each song on “Being Visited” is made much more complex when Galluccio’s voice begins snaking between its rhythmic dialectic and straddling the gap between song and sense.

Galluccio’s voice is breathy as blown incense smoke and sassy as an adolescent girl just getting hip to what her hips can do. Galluccio’s Queen speaks in riddle and metaphor and often weds sharp, clear imagery to those more hidden and obscure. Again, take the song Creamsplit:
“Falsity stuck in my teeth like sourdough
There is nothing to creep up my leg but the condor”

Galluccio’s “Being Visited” is replete with such jarring juxtapositions and demanding tandems that caress the mind with a heightened view of the familiar, then slaps it silly with the fantastic and surreal. It is as though this is the only way the Queen from Mars can communicate with us: she has to translate her thoughts into our language–– and the result is highly charged poetry.

The next track These Diamonds are my Very, features Galluccio’s potent poetry sandwiched between arrhythmic percussion and Galluccio’s own sinewy voice overlain electronically. Underneath it all is Galluccio’s chanting of “These diamonds are my very teeth”. This streamline piece of hypnotica places Galluccio somewhere between Sybil and chanteuse.

Then we are confronted with the dark light of Black Sun. An ode to both Eros and Thanatos that asks us to find ourselves, along with the Queen from Mars, “in the midst of the grave, the grapevine and the rose combined.” This muscular tune drips with its Galluccio’s own poetic duende, even as she nods respectfully (as she does several times throughout “Being Visited”) to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.

Smog in Athens I and Smog in Athens II (with Leda’s Swan) complete the first leg of the Queen from Mars’ musical/poetic visitation. Part I invades the head with a cavalcade of voices as an electronic metronome sets an urgent tone that quickens to critical upon entering part II, where the mind is torn between Galluccio’s singing, the metronome, and the simple yet effective drum beat and guitar riffs pushing toward a retro-rock, head-pumping rush. This then trails off gracefully into the Queen cooing us into the next track You go to my Head–– the vintage jazz ballad by Tin Pan Alley lyricist Haven Gillespie. Galluccio wields this standard like an axe in a trembling fist (You never know where it’s going to come down, but when it does––something’s gonna bleed).

But Galluccio’s Queen from Mars doesn’t only wish to slam us against walls and drop us into dark pits (though she enjoys this and I mind it not at all) she also wants to seduce. And she does so with the beautifully delivered Lou Reed classic “Pale Blue Eyes”. In this, Galluccio let’s the Queen’s softer voice (she has many) take the lead in this dance. Galluccio does Lou Reed honor with her airy texturing and expert phrasing.

In the track Mona Lisa/Mozart’s Wife Galluccio’s Queen conjures images of both eternal muse and forgotten woman. As Mozart’s wife she scolds the composer for being “drunk…wet and full of weird chamber music.” At the end of this Galluccio’s Queen (as Mozart’s wife) recognizes Mona Lisa as sister by asking (via the Evans and Livingston lyric) “Are you warm, are you real Mona Lisa, or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art?” In this, it seems the Queen from Mars is also asking herself this question. She is, like the Mona Lisa, the perpetual observer forever out of reach.

Next, we come to the eerie title track “Being Visited”. The poetry is, of course, brilliant––and the music brooding and broad. It is, perhaps, something Blake or Bosch might have played to get into the mood to paint. This track is part prayer, part exorcism. To listen to it is to hear the perturbation of dark wings smelling of apples and ash (I love this song).

Finally, we arrive at the dreamy, pulsating Queen from Mars. Interesting that on this track the Queen herself doesn’t speak, but is instead spoken of. It features the sardonic voice of a woman who “accepts” that her lover has been seduced by the Queen of Mars. She sings:

“I can understand why you had an affair with he Queen of Mars.
She’s got pink hair and her teeth are sharp.
You left earth to kiss her and I bear the scars.”

This lyric may as well say to a philandering man: “Yeah, baby, it’s cool. Don’t worry about it. Just go to sleep, now.” Were I her cheating lover I would sleep with one eye open clutching a knife.

This track (like Mona Lisa/Mozart’s Wife) features saxophonist extraordinaire Roy Nathanson of the Jazz Passengers. Nathanson, who has worked with such luminaries as Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello is always the consummate professional. He complements Galluccio’s disorienting, often forbidding lyrics with sparse licks, rhythm, attitude and atmosphere. Also accompanying Galluccio on this album are Miki Navazio on electric guitar, Brad Jones on upright bass, Michael Evans on drums and percussion and a host of other heavy hitters: EJ Rodriguez, Satoshi Takeishi, Chris Bowers, and Khartik Swaminathan.

Lo Galluccio’s “Being Visited” fuses well-wrought poetry, spoken word, song, jazz, rock and funky pop with serious artistry, intellect and an eclectic vision unlike any I have heard.
Don’t buy this album if you need a little mood music to play while you tend other duties (you will only be cheating yourself). But if you are able to carve out 45 minutes to journey with Galluccio’s “Being Visited” it will be a great musical and poetic odyssey.

Regie O’Hare Gibson is an author, songwriter, educator and poetry workshop facilitator he has read taught, lectured and performed at universities, theaters and various other venues in seven countries most recently Monfalcone, Italy where he was winner of the International Absolute Poetry Competition. His work has also appeared in a number of anthologies and journals including The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Iowa Review and Poetry Magazine. He performs with Synesthesia–– a literarymusic ensemble that fuses literature with American funk, jazz and blues, European classical elements, Middle Eastern percussion and smatterings of electronica.

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