Obliques Before Pale Skin is the follow up to “The Remote Viewers” fine 1998 Leo Lab release titled, Low Shapes in Dark Heat. The proceedings get off to a predictably fine start with Louise Petts’ hauntingly beautiful vocals on the standard “It Could Happen To You” – yet not without the customary twist or two........Aided by a dash of reverb and overall excellent audio engineering, the Trio ensue with eerie and perhaps intentionally bizarre synthesizer sounds which segues into Madonna’s “Secret” as the Trio implement a surreal rendition of Madonna’s Top 40 brand of pop music. Ms. Petts’ sultry yet at times choir like and hypnotic vocals followed by a divergent backwash of textural electronics equates to good-natured yet serious minded fun. The trio pick up their saxophones on “The Preferred Absence” which is a thrilling foray into counterpoint and intriguing harmonies as they seemingly partake in a slightly wayward yet coordinated classical-style approach. A thoroughly modern sound along with odd-metered “implied” rhythmic structures as “The Remote Viewers” pursue patterns or passages which at times, parallel the “minimalist movement”. “Primitive Agony” features pensive synth backdrops accentuated by Ms Petts probing and somewhat mysterious vocals as though the band were literally trapped in a tiny room which imaginatively becomes smaller as this piece continues. Here, lucid imagery prevails.....
On “The Horror of Atoms”, the Trio’s “free-jazz” saxophone performances are integrated with a recurring and somewhat bizarre childlike theme, which reappears in a similar form on the composition, titled, “Instinctive Science”. “Wild is the Wind” features more of Ms Petts strikingly seductive vocals atop synth strings as the band continue to translate standard pop fare into outrageous or delightfully unique productions.
The Remote Viewers are a remarkably entertaining group as they combine unorthodox approaches, subliminal storytelling with lush melodies and relevant abstractions along with Louise Petts’ stunningly beautiful vocals. Oblique Before Pale Skin succeeds on all accounts as an artistic triumph with loads of appeal. * * * * ½
Adrian Northover; Alto & Soprano Saxophones, Pocket Theremin: Louise Petts; Alto Saxophone, Voice, Wasp Synth & Pocket Theremin: David Petts; Tenor Saxophone, Roland SH-09 synth & Pocket Theremin.