Erika Stucky: Princess: Release Information
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Release Date: 15.04.2005
TT Catalogue No: 4481
Hippie picnics in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to a flowery soundtrack of the Monkees, Donovan and Nancy Sinatra. Then suddenly the scene changes abruptly to mountain valleys, yodelling choruses and polka folk in traditional Swiss costume with the Valais Alps looming on the horizon. How a child can handle such a disparate wealth of idyll, how a woman can finally create her own unique vocal universe from it, this we have been able to experience and enjoy in the past few years when the Alpine-American Erica Stucky blesses us with her stage and CD presence. Now she invites us to a third audience with “Princess“- and we hear a nutty, playful, royally profound soundwork with blue and hot-blooded prominence en masse. A big and robust rival to the frail princess of the pea.
Much has been written about this crazy transatlantic biography that whisks a young maiden away from the S.F. Bay Area to “Valais in Wonderland”. How Erika Stucky not only therapied her childhood culture shock at the C.I.M. Jazz School in Paris with voice training, but actually transformed it, making a powerful entrance onto the jazz floor with George Gruntz and Ray Anderson. And how she finally did a neat job of performing the full intercontinental splits with her very own project “Bubbles & Bones”. Amorphously to metamorphic. The amazed press described it like this at times: “Schimmering between alpine girly and jazz lady – more heart-rending than seriously avant-garde. “Serious fun“ (Rolling Stone). „Vocal action art between Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk and Tom Waits“, discovered Stereoplay. And FAZ states soberly: „There aren´t many vocalists of Erika Stucky’s kind.” What a noble understatement.
In light of the fact that this creative Kraut is sprouting rampantly with unlimited originality in her solo program. A full but elaborately filigree horn section of tuba, trombones and trumpets makes up an extraordinarily clever setting for her onomatopoeic, cineaste-inspired mini-dramas, sometimes her own “Stucky pieces”, sometimes picked from the richly covered fields of popular music from Sting to Hendrix, or even Nazareth.
This is the sound philosophy the Swiss (not by choice!) Miss continues to spin on the third leg of her solo journey. Mischievously slipping into all those princess gowns tailored just for her, showing us how things sound “at the King’s”. The people she plays with:
If the ranks of horn-blowing combatants were built up on the second album “Lovebites”, with Ray Anderson and Lew Soloff among others, this time there are, believe it or not, nine horns on board. The Boston Viennese Jon Sass, tuba player and euphonium-master (Hans Theessink, Henry Threadgill, Vienna Art Orchestra) has been part of the crew since the last album, as well as trombone player Bertl Mütter (Camerata Obscura, Haslinger-Mütter-Puntigam) – they are the chanteuse’s constant companions. With Mnozil Brass however, another seven wild giants from Tu Felix Austria deliver horn-blowing vocals, among them Thomas Gantsch distinguishing himself with solo intermezzi. Knut Jensen congenially attends to the electronic ornamentation with Ms. Stucky herself, percussive improviser Lucas Niggli (Pierre Favre, Fred Frith, Butch Morris...) sets thrilling accents. And with Franz Treichler, a living “Young God” from the number 1 Swiss cult band of the same name joins in with a most unusual part in the script. And these are only the players IN FRONT OF the scenes of the palace.
If one wanted to get all the heads behind the songs together for the royal family photo there would be a real collection of the curios. The little prince from Minneapolis would be sitting there with his playmates Wendy & Lisa on the throne. Leaning on his side, the uncrowned king of grunge, Kurt Cobain. The “(killer) Queen” in person in the form of Freddie Mercury miming an androgynous diva. Her spouse, King Elvis doing a jailhouse rock across the tiles of the palace hall. And to counterbalance the evil Cobain, bad boy Michael from Neverland Ranch would drop by. Aristocratic composure would seldom be maintained, but certainly no one would want to play the picky pea princess.
In spite of being embedded in all that royalty, the „Stuckian“ women’s roles usually remain earthy and deep-rooted. In „Fearless“, the striking fanfare opener, an Amazon princess presents herself wearing golden bracelets and carrying a shield of “trust” to the sound of a droning alphorn-like metal dodrun. Similarly self-confident is the heroine in her own composition “Untouchable”, laughing danger in the face and howling with the wolves, making chills run right down your spine. In “You know You’re Right”, a Cobain song published posthumously, with the Mnozils providing a droll backing, it no longer seems to be Kurt, but his wife Courtney lolling lasciviously around the microphone. Jackson’s “Bad” is sprinkled with Muhammad Ali’s battle cries, setting vocal multi-tracking highlights. In “Jailhouse Rock”, rock’n roll machismo is unmasked by screaming background furies. And there are a couple of tearjerkers in between: A princess waiting unwaveringly and befitting her rank that one day her prince will come, with a heavenly hymn of deliverance at the end. And then Young God Franz Teichler goes off on a duet excursion into Linda Ronstadt’s repertoire: „El Sol Que Tu Eres“ – How splendidly can confederate souls and romantic Chicano myths be united! As a central highlight however, the “dominatrix” thrones in the middle of Stucky’s compositions, a more than worthy successor to the “Roxanne” of her debut album. With a rap-like foreplay the strict temptress entices to a hot strip that the seven boys from Mnozil Brass – pulling out all the New Orleans stops – fire on. To the happy-like ending a last question : Isn’t there a Queen Mother in every mom, who wants to spoil her little boy?
Resolute Amazon, devouring S/M-lady, choleric Rock’n Roll queen and mothering Queen Mom of hearts – Erika Stucky convincingly masters all of her very special royalty-roles.
© Traumton Records