Exposé Online banner

Sugar Skulls — The Little Death
(Blackhouse Records Bh99931, 2010, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2013-05-01

The Little Death Cover artThis CD is some serious fun. Serious because the musicians really know what they're doing, both in the composing and playing. Fun because they have a playful (though adult) sense of humor about their material. The end result is in some ways comparable to other bands labeled as "math-rock" - especially those who also have some tendencies toward classic progressive rock as well. But mostly, Sugar Skulls are off in their own world. When listening to the music the first time, there's so much happening that the lack of a guitar in the lineup (keyboards, violin, bass, drums) might not be immediately apparent, though it does figure prominently in the band's identity. Keyboards provide the foundations of the tunes, with Henrietta Fox Nebel supplying a variety of tone colors to set the stage. The electric violin is a frequent spotlight stealer - Julie Baldridge is exceptionally creative and skilled, whether playing her instrument with a natural sound or with effects. With so much going on, you might not notice Ursula Beatrice Stuart's bass immediately, but when you do, you'll be impressed. (Having seen the band live, I can attest that she's a monster player.) Both Fox Nebel and Stuart sing, taking different parts as the songs tell their stories, having the kind of dramatic delivery that reminds me of 80s Art School bands like Human Sexual Response and The Stick Men (not Tony Levin's band). Musically, obviously some Zappa figures in their likes, as well as some RIO and even Björk. There's some similarity to Charming Hostess, though without the Eastern European flavor. Both complex and accessible, Sugar Skulls are a strong musical presence, and I hope they can continue to produce recordings as strong as this one.

Filed under: New releases, 2010 releases

Related artist(s): Sugar Skulls

More info
http://www.blackhouserecordsinc.com
http://www.myspace.com/sugarskullsrocks

Latest news

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

2018-02-26
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta, on their full-length debut, joins Radiohead as a relatively high profile “alternative rock” group to flirt with progressive elements, and in fact does Radiohead one better (to the...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues