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Night of Hunters

Tori Amos

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Album Review

Tori Amos has attempted conceptual recordings as far back as Boys For Pele in 1996. It worked beautifully there and on Scarlet's Walk, less so on the Beekeeper and American Doll Posse. Night Of Hunters was created based on a commission by Deutsche Grammophon, to create a 21st century song cycle that took into account classical works from the last 400 years. She built 14 songs from variations on Bach, Debussy, Granados, Alkan, Satie, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky and Gregorian Chant. Its mythical theme reflects the New World to Old World journey of a woman who finds herself alone as a relationship dies, and must find inner strength to transcend her circumstances. Amos joined her voice and Bosendorfer piano with reeds, winds, and strings, arranged by John Philip Shenale. While her narrative can be frustratingly complex and her lyrics obscure, the work ultimately succeeds because she restrains herself from all excesses and employs her finest vocal and playing skills—the latter are formidable. Shenale's arrangements take Amos's rhythmic playing into account in his charts; he complements them and never over orchestrates. On "The Shattering Sea," based on an Alkan's "Madwoman on the Sea-Shore," strings by the Apollon Musagete Quartet pulse just behind her piano, creating drama underscored by reeds and winds. When she pronounces emphatically, "That is not my blood on the on the bedroom floor," the tension becomes unbearable. In "Snowblind," (based on a song by Granados) her character refuses to accept blame for the end of the relationship. Amos creates a mythical guide/Muse as balance: the fine vocals of her eleven year old daughter Natasha as 'Anabelle The Fox" make their initial appearance. "Battle Of Trees," based on Satie's "Gnossienne No. 1" will demand attention from the listener who will be seduced by the interplay between voice, strings, reeds and winds. "Cactus Practice," despite it's ridiculous title, is one of the more beautful pieces here; it's with another vocal duet with Natasha based on a Chopin nocturne. Likewise their duet in "Job's Coffin," inspired by Mendelssohn's "Nautical Twilight." "Seven Sisters" the instrumental pairing between her piano and Andreas Ottensame's clarinet—inspired by a Bach prelude— precedes "Carry," the most powerful (and accessible) cut. It's also the closer and is based on a prelude by Debussy. Night Of Hunters is not a pop record and therefore claims a different place in Amos's oeuvre. It contains the emotive power, dynamic, and splendor of her very best material, but because it is a work of classical crossover, any expectation of pop hooks, or sing along choruses will be met with disappointment. Consequently its sophistication, elegance and poetry will reward anyone who takes the time to absorb it. [The Deluxe Edition contains a bonus DVD. Bound in a hardback book, containing a documentary, and videos for the songs "Carry" and "Nautical Twilight."]

Biography

Born: 22 August 1963 in Newton, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos) was one of several female singer/songwriters who combined the stark, lyrical attack of alternative rock with a distinctly '70s musical approach, creating music that fell between the orchestrated meditations of Kate Bush and the stripped-down poetics of Joni Mitchell. In addition, she revived the singer/songwriter traditions of the '70s while re-establishing the piano as a rock & roll instrument. With her 1992 album Little...
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Night of Hunters, Tori Amos
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