Erika Stucky: Bubbles & Bones: Release Information
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Release Date: 01.10.2001
TT Catalogue No: 4454
"Fasten your seat belt, stop thinking, and let yourself be carried away on a crazy trip." What sounds like an announcement from a cunning stewardess is really a loving warning to those aesthetes who get dizzy at the tiniest irritations or change of course and - once robbed of their puristic balance - get sick. Parts of this trip are mapped out - by Erika Stucky's biography. Having in the mean time landed in New York, the singing performance artist has moves of dramatic, yes, almost planetary dimensions behind her.
An air delivery that must have dealt a whopping culture shock to even the most ardent advocates of Global-Village-Unity. Can anything "normal" be expected of some one who grew up in San Francisco in the sixties, was kissed by the world-embracing love of hippies andpinched by Frank Zappa's cutting mockery of America, and then moves to the backwoods (or backworld?) of Oberwallis, to Mörel, a mountain village where the folklore club, yodelling, and apricots thrive, and which sports a dialect that, to "High German" ears, makes Swiss German sound like the language of a Hanoverian linguist??? Anybody who doesn't go a little crazy after that would have to be suspected of being insensitive.
But Stucky does not become Heidi. Doesn't let the alpine pastures and peaks become a nightmare. Yodelling isn't enough for her so in the eighties she moves to Paris to be professionally trained as a jazz singer. But then scatting isn't enough for her so she goes to acting school. And the desire to share her bi-, tri-, no, multicultural experience keeps growing: with another Swiss-American and the French-Swiss "Sophisticrats" bassist (now her husband) she creates an imaginary place that unites the common interests of these homeless souls - Bubble Town (1991). And so Frau Stucky becomes Mrs. Bubble. In 1997 she finds further confederates (though not fellow citizens this time) in trombonists Ray Anderson and Art Baron and tubist Jose Devila to form Mrs. Bubble & Bones.
The instrumental norm(ality) has never interested her. The Sophisticrats consisted of four singers and a bassist; and her International Alphorn Orchestra hardly meets the expectations of aesthetic instrumental (sound) culture. And now a high, ringing woman's voice between trombone and tuba ("what the hell was that now?!??"). The enlightened listener of the early twenty-first century has heard much - but this?
Stucky never made things easy for herself. But she makes it easy for the audience to get enthused by her. Bubble makes just one single condition: the inclined consumer has to get up out of his/her wornout old arm(ear)chair and comfortable old listening habits every now and then. And then take a different position. So she recommends to stiff middle and west Europeans the US motto (Hey guys have fun!") and to entertainment addicted Americans the artistic Euro-credo ("How about just listening?"). Serious fun. It's all in the mix. Stucky knows how to do it. And presents neither la-la-la nor l'art-pour-l'art as she goes.
Instead: Entertainment, avantgarde-jazz and pop music, interspersed with theatrical forms of expression and super- 8 projections, presented in a hotchpotch of genuine American English, solid Swiss dialect and dadaistic air bubbles. In the process, Stucky creates a stunning personal union out of Laurie, Sissi and Pippi, out of Anderson, Perlinger, and Longstocking. With braids twisted up into Mickey Mouse ears, yellow-skirted and flowered-stockinged.
It's true that one really should s e e Mrs. Bubble & Bones, as this happily subversive work of art isn't just for the ears. But even the audio version is an invitation to adventurous travelling, whereby Stucky isn't the only travel guide. The horns are occasionally inclined to vocal garrulousness, like Rex Stewert's and Dickie Wells' Talkative Horns once used to play (RAOULT LOUNGE, SQUEEZE ME, BUT HONEY, I'M PERFECTLY SOBER, LET ME DRIVE), in the next moment it's an onomatopoeic rendition of the insatiable gluttony of dogs (I HATE DOGS) - but it's well-known that dogs love bones! - or the unctuous complacency of producers (STARQUALITY). In the middle of these instruments operating with such earthly relish and played by truly happy souls, suddenly sounds overcast by melancholy (THERE WAS A GIRL IN 69, TEMPTATION), conjured up by Argentinian bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, his appearance alone a counterpoint to the extroverted trombonists. And then you have pianist George Gruntz, who already in his own projects (among others with Stucky and Saluzzi) managed to forge a bridge between mountain peaks and high-rise buildings, and as a polyglot Swiss the ideal accompaniment for Stucky's 8-minute jump across the Atlantic (ZÄUERLI/YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE). As if it weren't exciting enough til then, something else comes (LIKE SOME ONE IN LOVE), that even the most daring predictions could not possibly have foreseen: Mrs. Bubbles & Strings!!!
"Whoever works with me has to be prepared for surprises". So does
the listener. So please fasten your seat belts.