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CD Review: Mimi Goese and Ben Neill 

click to enlarge Mimi Goese & Ben Neill - Songs For Persephone - (2011, Ramseur Records)
  • Mimi Goese & Ben NeillSongs For Persephone(2011, Ramseur Records)

What a spectacular, gorgeous find. Emotional and symphonic, the music on this recording is from lower Hudson Valley duo Mimi Goese and Ben Neill’s multimedia musical theater performance “Persephone,” which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and is based on fragments of the works of Berlioz, Schumann, Bruckner, Grieg, Donizetti, Gabrieli, Beethoven, and Strauss. The result is a performance-art lover’s dream come true. Goese (vocals) and Neill (“mutantrumpet,” electronics) are joined by cello, drums and bass as they navigate the romantic and abstract, both musically and lyrically, from the very first moments of this record.

A bit reminiscent of Jane Siberry, Goese belts out a hypnotic refrain on lush opener “Roma” (“For all the love, we all need a little kindness now and then”) amid swirls of compelling strings and keys and Neill’s electronica and invention, the mutantrumpet. The larger-than-life “If You Lie Awake” begins with a sonorous bang, launching into a neoclassical piece of epic proportions in which Goese’s vox border on haunting as she repeats the breathy line “Don’t let go.” Mid-album track “Elegy” has a downtempo and dramatic trip-hop feel. Listen to this record with headphones, because there are a lot of subtle nuances in the layers that should not be missed. Anyone who appreciates art rock or stylistically complex bands such as Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, or Portishead should not pass this one by. It could very well be your new favorite record; I know it’s mine.

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