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Katie Bull: All Hot Bodies Radiate

Franz A. Matzner By

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A raucous concoction, Katie Bull's All Hot Bodies Radiate bursts with energy, its verbal and musical contortions devoted to a deceptively cacophonous mix of levity, seriousness, playfulness, and avant abstractions.

Artfully balanced, Bull merges spoken-word delivery and singing to deliver her poem-lyrics in a style that cleverly evokes the best coffeehouse traditions, without being overtly retro. The words themselves are evocative, often pointedly erotic, and when fused to her bandmates appropriately shifting styles, fashion clearly envisioned sound and word sculptures. The album's thirteen tracks are also quite diverse, offering a plethora of moods, scenes, and portraits.

The opening—and stand-out track—"The Crazy Poet" ignites with passionate discordance, careening just along the edge of irony, without falling into parody, its power stemming from the ability to capture the seriousness of poetic endeavor along with its humor. "Venus on the Train" strikes a similar pose, its thrusting, funky beat and bluesy saxophone supporting a smart, sensual portrait of Americana—the female hipster as modern siren. At the other end of the spectrum, the somber lyrics, spectral backing vocals, and lugubrious bass line of "Ghost Sonata" arrive at a slow burn, and then scatter dreamlike. And just when one thinks a pattern is developing, "A Torch Song to the Sun" flares in yet another direction, subtle orchestration and a ballad tempo laying a warm bed for the lyrics, while "I Guess this Isn't Kansas Anymore" pulsates with electronic density and distortion.

Katie Bull and her crew are restive, unabashedly unconventional, and appealingly droll. The result is a searing blend that benefits from repeat consumption.

Track Listing: The Crazy Poet Song; Venus on the A Train; KoKo’s Can-Do Blues; Ghost Sonata; The Drive to Woodstock; I Loved You / What If?; Torch Song to the Sun; Love Poem for Apollo; I Guess This Isn’t Kansas any More; Some Perfume Home; Ding Dong the Witch is Dead; Rapture for the David; The Sea is Full of Song.

Personnel: Katie Bull: vocals; Jeff Lederer: soprano and tenor sax; Landon Knoblock: piano, electronics; Joe Fonda: bass; George Schuller: drums

Title: All Hot Bodies Radiate | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Ashokan Indie

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