Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin — I Left My Heart in Uncanny Valley
(Electric Phantom no#, 2018, CD / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2018-04-15
The Soft Bodies Bleed Out compilation was my first encounter with the enigmatic and intriguingly named Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin. Just the artist’s name is more than enough to entice you to learn more. Now I have my chance with her latest release I Left My Heart in Uncanny Valley. This album is a collection of 19 twisted and bizarre songs with dissonant instrumentation and oddball melodies much like The Residents. Watching her videos is akin to viewing a quirkier vision of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I am not sure what Uncanny Valley is, but the songs appear to be about its different denizens. The outlandish nature of the songs makes you wonder what is going on in her brain and how she is able to compose this music while at the same time remaining aloof from conventional songs. Petunia’s surreal compositions also exhibit influences from Der Plan, Pyrolator, Ptôse, Laurie Anderson, and possibly Primus (Les Claypool). Electronic percussion, rhythms, sound bites, processed vocals, and eccentric lyrics swirl and twist through your ears. The song from the Soft Bodies compilation “The Monosaccharide Inducer” also appears on I Left My Heart in Uncanny Valley and is not as eccentric as the rest of the songs. To give you an idea of the wacky lyrics, the song “Grandpa Susie,” which may be about a fish, has the couplet “Oh no, the scaly slime! I am running out of time.” And then there is a dialog between Susie and someone sounding like Laurie Anderson’s slowed down voice “Do you have a pogo stick? I’ll take that.” Some of the songs “tell” a story like “Bermuda Triangle” with its island beat interspersed with the sounds of a thunderstorm, surf, and airline pilot announcements as everything collapses. “City without Limits Theme Song” bears an especially strong resemblance to The Residents using a toy piano. And the final track is a nightmarish reworking of Al Jolson’s classic “Toot, Toot, Toosie! (Good-Bye)” similar to Morgan Fisher’s Hybrid Kids reworking of Christmas songs. So if you are in the mood for something completely different, check out this album.
Related artist(s): Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.