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Prodigy? Emilie Autumn

May 27, 2009 Leave a comment

I just don’t get it… Of practically every female artist I listen to of late, someone, somewhere invariably says they “sound like Tori Amos.”

Take Emilie Autumn, my latest audio crush. She’s a multi instrumental, cross genre chameleon of a star with prodigious amounts of talent. Classical violin trained from the age of four, nonconformist, Nigel Kennedy aficionado  in both style and attitude (which subsequently lead her to being kicked out of several prestigious, yet conservative teaching establishments).

“Victoriandustrial” is a label she’s placed on herself, “corsets and combat boots” a juxtaposition of styles that is mirrored in her heavy hitting gothic rock fused classical.  
Yet despite all of this attention and fame granted by her rather sexy alter ego, she has remained true to her solid classical heritage, demonstrating commendably deep and stable roots with her release of a gorgeous classical album at a time when, well, let’s face it, classical is not exactly pop.   
Emilie Autumn Opheliac Album Cover

Emily Autumn – Opheliac

So this Tori Amos woman… is she the what then? The root of all modern female artists? The *mother* of all modern female artists? Or is it more a case of a “tastes like chicken” moment when people forget what Tori’s music actually sounds like but are left with just a vague impression, an aftertaste if you will? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see (hear) the resemblance in anything more than one of the many influences (because there are oh so many) to grace her songs.

I mean, come on, there are moments, yes, just like there are moments when the flavour of the food you’re eating becomes a little indistinct, and even… dare I say it, chicken-like.

Yet saying she sounds like Tori Amos is much too simplistic and does her a disservice, as if she’s a follower rather than a setter. Why, then, don’t we add the obvious observations of similarities with Kate Bush’s killer flyaway choruses, Sarah Nixiey’s sumptuous prose, Sia‘s sultry smoked out close-miked vocals, Annie Lennox’s awesome vocal presence, The Cocteau Twins’ complex countermelodies, Siouxsie Sioux’s sexy gothica, Bat for Lashes’ beauty and style, Fayray‘s fabulous classical accoutrements, Imogen Heap’s incredible acoustic vocal flourishes. Heck, let’s even add Bette Midler’s beautiful bar-tale storytelling and noiresque mystique and even an occasional splattering of TLC for heaven’s sake! There are heaps of influences in there because this woman is a one-girl artistic encyclopædia who has experienced and even mastered ranges of music and art beyond what most modern “popstars” could even name. She has more talent than an average studio band rolled up into one sexy gothic lolita package.

Come on, admit it, it was a chicken moment… she doesn’t really sound *that* much like Tori does she?

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Define Ectopian / Ectopia

May 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Ectopia  /ek-TOH-pia/  (noun)


 

In medical usage the word ectopia refers to displaced or shifted organs. e.g.
Tonsillar Ectopia

Ectopia can be thought of as a state of being out of place, or being displaced from the natural or ideal location or setting; to be in a condition that deviates from the “normal” either in situation or in relation to other members.

c.f. Utopia or “the perfect state.”

 

Ectopian  /ek-TOH-pian/   (adjective)


 

An object being in a state of ectopia. To be out of place or time, displaced, removed from natural habitat and placed into a new, different, foreign or alien situation.

Current usage patterns of this word, however appear to be limited to artistic and philosophical endeavours, the author being unable to find consistent examples of usage outside of these fields.

When thus applied, it appears  to include a distancing from the norms of the genre. Moreover, many example uses imply the positive connotations without the negative implications.

For example, nuances include thoughtful solitude and contemplation, meaningful individuality, otherworldliness, timelessness and often constitutes a willful, conscious choice on the part of the subject to place themselves or their art in said situation without undue emphasis on the disharmonious and discordant aspects of such a choice. 

 

I find it very exciting to be present at the very nascency of a word, especially a word that I feel applies so well to my current situation. For example, I’ve often considered myself as leading a rather ectopian lifestyle here in Japan as perhaps do most expatriates. 

I also find that I am far more attracted to ectopians than others, since in my eyes its those very differences that make people special.

Hence I’ve discovered that my taste in music is also characterised by a taste for a juxtaposition different styles shifted into new genres.

Singers like Kate Bush (sheer unadulterated otherworldliness), late 60’s David Bowie introspectives (looking at himself and the world from a distant place), Bic Runga (half Malaysian, half Maori creating a unique style of music that stands alone), Magdalen Hsu Li (American Born Chinese singer who overcame all manner of hardships in the deep south to turn herself into living proof of the existence of positive energy) and most recently Emilie Autumn (A colossal, chameleonic talent for shifting between genres yet belonging to none) to name but a few.

I had been unable to identify what it was I loved about certain music when similar songs sung in a different context failed to turn me on.

It’s the ectopian nature or “ectopianness” (for want of a better word!) of the songs and the artists that make me listen time and time again.

Since the ascendancy of Greek philosophy it has been known that it is the very sophistication of the words themselves allow the human mind to grasp intangible concepts by giving it a firm handle to hold onto.

The words we know and the concepts they represent shape our very thoughts and without them, we are both vocally and mentally mute.