Sarah Maria Sun: Killer Instincts
mode 321 (CD)
Life’s Been Good (Joe Walsh) 2:23
There’s A Law About Men (Leonard Bernstein, from: Trouble in Tahiti) 4:33
1. Lucky Day Overture (Tom Waits, from: Black Rider) 2:41
Sarah Maria Sun, voices
Arrangements: Max Renne, Sarah Maria Sun
Sarah Maria Sun’s “Killer Instincts” is a gloriously creative and colorful collection of songs about bad people doing bad things. It is also a concept album — a pleasurable journey in bad people’s shoes.
To find just the right lyrics, Sarah brought together songs from a wide range of genres — from classical art song, opera, Broadway, movie soundtracks, to classic rock and pop. How can this mix work? In these songs, Sarah inhabits a wide range of characters, at the same displaying her amazing abilities in disparate styles.
The arrangements, by Max Renne and Sarah, are as clever as the repertoire. Bernstein’s virtuoso “Glitter and Be Gay” is reimagined for an ensemble of banjos and guitar, and his “There’s a Law About Men” is sung to an electronic background of the orchestral accompaniment chopped and minced with filters.
Joe Walsh’s rock classic “Life’s Been Good” is accompanied by just bass guitar. Tom Waits’ “Just the Right Bullets” becomes a wild west meets surf music arrangement. Others are sung basically straight: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put a Spell on You,” the Schubert melodrama “Abschied von der Erde” and the first recording of Stefan Wolpe’s harrowing “Hitler.”
Keep an open mind and enjoy the ride!
Packaged in deluxe Digipak with 32-page book including all of the song texts in English and German.
"Bleakness, Elevated Stylishly:
During the third season of Netflix’s Weimar-era noir series, “Babylon Berlin,” the character Charlotte sings along to a recording of “Raus mit den Männern” (in English, “Chuck Out the Men!”). If the song by Friedrich Hollaender, a composer who wrote for cabarets, films and revues, makes you hungry for more politically jaundiced tunes, consider a recent album by the singer Sarah Maria Sun. Titled “Killer Instincts,” her recording is a satisfying side dish of satire: mordant in outlook, effervescent in detail.
Sun and her band, the Gurks, use a clattering, contemporary production sound to provide some consistency among songs that move from interwar compositions to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell on You” to gems from Broadway. (Think of Tom Waits at the cabaret, with greater vocal range.) Whether Sun is performing a selection from Leonard Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti” or a Stefan Wolpe tune from 1930 that laments Hitler’s rising political fortunes, she musters a stylish way of singing about bleak times.
Bernstein’s writing for the stage results in another highlight for Sun. Her performance of “Glitter and Be Gay” (from “Candide”) contains a banjo-led arrangement you never knew you needed. The twangy instrumental accompaniment and Sun’s coloratura brilliance are equally refined; together, they mock putative distinctions between “high” and “low” cultural practices with an energy that any satirist could admire.
Olivier MESSIAEN: Harawi — with Stefka Perifanova, piano
Modern Lied: Sarah Maria Sun (soprano) & Jan Philip Schulze (piano) perform works by Heinz HOLLIGER: Sechs Lieder nach Gedichten von Christian Morgenstern (1956/57); Salvatore SCIARRINO: Due Melodie; Helmut LACHENMANN: Got Lost; György KURTAG: Requiem po drugu op. 26; Wolfgang RIHM: Ophelia Sings; Bernhard LANG: Wenn die Landschaft aufhört
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