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The Creatures In the Garden of Lady Walton

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Album Review

The Clogs fifth full-length release builds on the avant-garde chamber ensemble’s foundation of kaleidoscopic, indie-classical instrumentals by adding equally unpredictable lyrics and vocals. Multi-instrumentalist Padma Newsome, who composed all of the songs during a 2005 residency at Italy’s botanical island paradise, Giardini La Mortella, has crafted a typically labyrinthine and cinematic collection of disparate melodies that draw inspiration from wells all over the world. The quartet is aided in this venture by a trio of guest vocalists including Sufjan Stevens and Matt Berninger (The National), but more specifically, opera singer-turned indie rocker Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), who appears on six of the ten songs that make up Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton. Like all Clogs releases, Lady Walton defies simple description. There are moments of impossible beauty (“Owl of Love”), dense, but structured dissonance (“Adages of Cleansing”), and of course, whimsical, classically minded, indie folk (“On the Edge”), that when consumed all together, feel like a perfectly executed mash-up of Aaron Copland, Dead Can Dance, Bill Frisell, and Shirley Collins.

Customer Reviews

Indie meets Classical

The Creatures (10 tracks, 42 minutes) features guest vocalists Sufjan Stevens, Matt Berninger, and Shara Worden (who sings in a handful of songs). To be honest, I was excited about this release because I am a huge fan of My Brightest Diamond, and was looking forward to Shara Worden’s vocals.

I am so glad I bought this CD! Worden is as fantastic as usual, and the music is breathtaking. The band members are trained in many styles, and they are truly masters at their craft. The layering of music is so intricate (with a heaping handful of instruments), and the chord progressions are so unpredictable and heartfelt that you will be left staggering. Shara Worden’s songs (“On the Edge,” “The Owl of Love,””Adages of Cleansing”) are the highlights of the album (I’m a little biased, so what?), but every single song is a joy to listen to.
The purely instrumental songs on the album (“I Used to Do,” “To Hugo”) are just as soaked with emotion as the rest. I’m definitely going to look into Clogs’ other albums after listening to this one. It is very relaxing and I would highly recommend it. Five out of five stars. This may be my favorite album of 2010.

Favorite tracks:
On The Edge, The Owl of Love, I Used to Do

Is this minimalism?

Seriously, I'm asking. Much of it sounds like minimalism to me, only it's much more appealing to me than most minimalist music is. And why is that?

The dense, dissonant bit of "Red Seas" seems to come out of absolutely nowhere. Why is that awesome? And I mean "awesome" as the English use it, not how surfers do. Is it because it doesn't sound like minimalism? And does it really come out of nowhere?

This is not a proper review; I apologize. I just think this work is so important, I don't want to write a review, I just want to talk about it, with other people who have heard it, again and again, with people who care passionately about music.

I am mostly critical of artists who reproduce their own material from one album to the next. So why does it work so well here, with "On the Edge" (which is also on the prequel, "Veil Waltz")? Is it because the song is so beautiful? Or is it because both albums were composed with that song in mind? It fits so perfectly there, in the third spot, on both albums, that I can't imagine the answer to be the former, so please, anyone who disagrees, speak up!

I have only heard one song by The National, but now that I have heard this album, I think that it is likely that I will buy at least one album of theirs. If this Berninger guy can hang with Clogs, then maybe The National are worth a listen.

Okay, now it's a review, I guess. The review before mine of this album called it "Indie Meets Classical," and I agree. Well, how important is that? Isn't that monumentally important? The re-merging of popular and art styles in music, shouldn't that be on the front page of a newspaper somewhere? Because it's absolutely true: this work, and the work before it, are both classical ("art") music and "pop" music.

Well? Isn't that incredibly important? Seriously, I'm asking.

good old brooklyn class

the instrumentation on this album is so beautiful it makes me want to live in the woods and fashion flutes and dulcimers out of pine wood and fern leaves and stroll amongst the glens.
but sadly, the world is not a perfect place.
but the harmonies they create with matt berninger on last song reflect what a perfect world might sound like were it a musical


Formed: New Haven, CT

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Consisting of four classically trained musicians (Bryce Dessner, Padma Newsome, Rachael Elliott, and Thomas Kozumplik), the Clogs are an avant-garde chamber ensemble whose works encompass a wide range of styles, including (but not limited to) jazz, post-rock, and chamber music. They met in the late '90s at the Yale School of Music, where Newsome, originally hailing from the University of Adelaide in Australia, was studying on a Fulbright scholarship. Drawing from influences as disparate as romanticism,...
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The Creatures In the Garden of Lady Walton, Clogs
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