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Rehearsing My Choir

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iTunes Review

Rehearsing My Choir is the musical autobiography of 83-year-old Olga Sarantos, grandmother to Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, the creative siblings known as the Fiery Furnaces. In a most unusual collaboration, this complex story is told in fragments that range from wildly imaginative to impenetrable. Against a jagged collage of piano, organ, guitars, synthetic blips, toy instruments, and bizarre electronic effects, Mrs. Sarantos intones in a deep, slightly warbling, histrionic voice that is strangely compelling. Throughout the album she trades lyrics with Eleanor, who sings from the perspective of her grandmother as a younger woman. The vignettes follow no chronological path; it’s as if photos from every stage of Mrs. Sarantos’ life were spilled onto the floor, then picked up at random and discussed in code. There is a narrative here, but it is buried beneath dizzying lyrics that read like refrigerator-magnet poetry, such as: “zap, zapped by the zombie in the two-door Dodge/twice-baked brioche in Danish pastry pockets.” Such lines serve as clues to deciphering this sprawling, disjointed memoir. To call this possessed piece of musical theater self-indulgent is beside the point. As with most family projects, it’s designed to be insular. The commitment required to fully unravel this work (if that’s even possible) is greater than what most listeners will be willing to make, ardent Fiery Furnaces fans included. But that shouldn’t scare off the curious — the view from the outside is fascinating enough itself.

Customer Reviews

Not for everyone, but I love it.

This is probably most fan's least favorite FF album, but I think it's their best. Their other albums are great, but sometimes they sound a little cold, whereas this album has real heart. Give it a shot. Definitely not the place to start, though.

really, it is awsome

Ya, the first time you hear it you will either be completely confused or laughing. This cd is definetly one of those cds that takes time to get used to but once you do, i promise youll love it. the grandma will just be like "my daughter remamed her named her maurene, can you belive it?" "I didn't belive it or her." "Can you believe it?" The whole cd is basically a catchy convesation. its so hard to explain because its never been done before, but try it, youll love it.

Good, but not like the others.

There's a lot more of Matthew's voice in this album then the rest. Very innovative, as is the case with the other albums, but I would recommend giving this one a shot after you've taken in the others, especialls Blueberry Boat and Widow City.


Formed: 2000 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Restless sonic chameleons the Fiery Furnaces revolve around the brother and sister duo of Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, whose prickly childhood relationship and musical family set the stage for their playful, unpredictable music. The Friedbergers' grandmother was a musician and choir director at a Greek Orthodox church near the family's home in Oak Park, IL; their mother, who had a penchant for Gilbert & Sullivan, played piano and guitar and sang; and throughout school, Matthew played standup...
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