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Little Annie & Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo – Blue Xmas EP

This 7″ EP was conceived as part of the Tourette Records “We Dream in Colour” series and brings together two of the avant-garde music world’s most recognizable figures in Little Annie and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo.  The result has been both wonderful and strange.  Palumbo is a name immediately recognizable from his work with the Italian avant-rock quartet Larsen, a project that has been immeasurably influential in the past decade and a half to many experimental musicians and has collaborated both in the studio and live with names such as Jarboe, Z’ev, Baby Dee, David Tibet, Julia Kent, and Jóhann Jóhannsson.  Of course, his solo project “(r)” doesn’t seem to get nearly enough attention in its equally impressive presence.  Little Annie, of course, is the eccentric “post-modern cabaret queen” of the experimental world and has now had a two-decade long career creating compositions for acclaimed labels from Durto / Jnana to Southern Records and, along with the collaboration with COH, now Tourette Records.  As with many artists of her caliber, the ability to label her as one type of musicians has effectively been revoked, but at least for this record, her bluesy cabaret side is all but apparent.

Much like his collaboration with Ernesto Tomasini, “Canes Venatici”, Palumbo has taken a mostly musical stance on this EP, leaving the vocal work completely up to Little Annie, with the exception of the echoed dual-gender track “The Ballad of Blue Obsessions”.  Blue is, of course, the theme, from the album artwork and the color of wax to the very tracks themselves, and that fact is made more than perceptible through both the genre and the atmosphere.  Side A is completely taken up with a Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus” guitar rhythm that is layered by a psychedelic, distorted and rocked-out lead.  Little Annie’s performance for this track is equally distorted but in a different way, featuring rambling vocals that speak of “an arrangement” with gentlemen who are taking care of “the business”.  A personal fantasy that comes with a fair amount of sleaze appeal that possibly could be appreciated by fans of Bain Wolfkind.  For Side B, the duo open up with the famous standard “Blue Moon”, originally composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart circa 1960 in Little Annie’s own muse city, New York.  Annie & Palumbo’s arrangement features deeply shimmering, quickly flanging guitar and a droning high-end lead for the guitar bridge.  This was Palumbo’s grandfather’s favorite song and is dedicated to his memory.

The third and finally track, “The Ballad of Blue Obsessions”, is less of a ballad and more of a withdrawn, melancholic, opiate-induced track featuring various harmonious guitar drones and broken down duet-style vocals from both parties.  Dreamy, down-tempo, droning and delirious, this track represents yet another blue face out of the trio of blue songs on this, overall, very blue effort.  In regards to the Xmas theme, I have to believe that the relation of the tracks to the holiday are entirely personal, especially considering the dedication of “Blue Moon”.  Two editions of this EP exist, one regular edition of 300 copies and another of 50.  The edition of 50 features individual pieces of canvas prints which are all unique from one another, are hand-doctored by Little Annie herself and are signed by both artists.  Fans of either artist will honestly find something very humble and warm with this release — still eccentric and creative, but somehow, comparatively speaking, more personal, especially on side B.

Track List:

Side A:
01) Chinatown Blues

Side B:
01) Blue Moon
02) The Ballad of Blue Obsessions

Rating: 4.25/5
Written by: Sage
Label: Tourette Records (US) / Tourette 028 / 7″ EP
Experimental / Cabaret / Blues