on 29 October 2013
I got a copy of this early at a signing last week and can't stop listening to it. Throwing Muses are on great form, and 32 tracks makes up for the 10 year wait. That amount of songs can be off putting on an album sometimes - there's always a danger that it'll be bloated, or so long that you never feel you get to know it properly. A lot of the tracks here are quite short - like fragments and ideas. It keeps the whole thing flowing, and the music is superb - interesting, engaging and moving in a way that many bands don't manage.
The way it has been 'published' works too - it's very nicely packaged, and Kristin Hersh has a conversational and observant way of writing that's a pleasure to read. Her memoir Paradoxical Undressing is worth checking out if you enjoy this.
on 24 February 2014
as a long term fan of both Throwing Muses and Kristin Hersh's solo work i had a real sense of anticipation when i received this, and it did not disappoint. It's not often you are allowed access to works in progress, but some of the tracks here are exactly that, you can watch the development as the tune/lyrical fragment is honed into the final version of a coherent song.
At 32 tracks, this may seem long but some of the tracks are only a minute long. Add to that that the developmental aspect, backed up by the book, with lyrics and stories behind the songs. This feels like a remarkable achievement in the world of instant music gratification, an album which invites the listener in and envelops them and gives more to the listener with each listen. Reading the book whilst listening almost feels as though Kristin and the band are with you talking you through the album which is an wonderful addition to the traditional sleeve notes.
Overall if you like the Muses past albums then you will enjoy this!
on 8 January 2014
Throwing Muses have always been one of the most idiosyncratic, challenging and independently minded bands, leading the way for many others. They've still never received the credit they deserve (and yes, they were always better than their old support band The Pixies, but take a bit more work to really appreciate just how much more depth and intensity they bring).
Some mesmerizing music here from Kristin et al. 32 tracks on one disc, some reprises sees tunes floating in and out of the setlist, giving the sense of an ongoing, hazily dreamlike, narrative but without ever becoming gimmicky or forced. The whole philosophy behind this record is quite clearly sticking up two fingers to the ipod mentality of listening (that said there's an embarrasment of riches in the 'choice cuts' department that'd make great samplers on your ipod...). I've had this album several weeks and listened to it a lot, but feel like I've barely scratched the surface of its depths. As Kristin has been wont to say in interviews -'people have forgotten what music can do'. This is a timely reminder. Some tracks are short (a minute to a minute and a half not being uncommon), as well as full length workouts of 4 to 4 and a half minutes. There's a few tracks that are just so great I'd really like them to have been longer (Triangle Quantico for one).
In any event the band cranks out a sound of sensitive delicacy, nuanced, elegant, textured, sensual, but with a thumping post industrial aesthetic on tracks like Sunray Venus that should have every other rock band out there wondering 'why don't we sound like this?'.
Ten years was a long wait for this one, but it's another cracker.
on 5 November 2013
This is amazing. Those that know anything about the works of Kristin Hersh or Throwing Muses would have expected something special. This truly is. As a piece of art it all falls together beautifully. The vocals are as a weird and wonderful as ever. Fragile. Energetic. The words are always bright, always intriguing. Loud guitars, Pounding drums and driving bass. Delicate. Contradiction. David Narcizo and Bernard Georges as vital as ever. Powerful. Punk. The production is great. Limbo like. You get songs as good as anything on any of Kristin's solo releases. Sunny Border Blue. Learn To Sing Like A Star. You get instrumentals. Pleasure. Pain. Confusion. Hope. Everything you could want in an 'alternative' compact disc. Already looking forward to any upcoming UK dates ! Last time I had the pleasure was in a converted church. Heavenly devotion.
As stated by another fan, the low amazon price is kind of shameful for such a beautiful package. Buy an extra copy for anyone just that little bit different, someone you think the world of !
So onto those of you who have come by here through a passing interest. You might know Real Ramona or Bright Yellow Gun. Almost made it 'big'. Purgatory/Paradise is as good a place as any to reach a wider audience. Go back to In A Doghouse. Get hooked.
What about those who know nothing at all ? Stumbled by mistake or by the all round positive reviews. It is extremely hard to describe such unique talent. On pain of death, think P J Harvey taking on Joy Division with the pixies in the room next door.. As brilliant as all 3. High praise indeed. Deserved.
Ps the other 'album of the year' is Manic Street Preachers - Rewind The Film. How good it feels that my two favourite bands of the last 25 years or so can still deliver such delight. Long live the past. More up to date, check out Savages ' Silence Yourself ' and Cate Le Bon ' Mug Museum ' .
on 2 December 2013
Looking at the running times of each track on Purgatory/Paradise, a third of which hover around the one minute mark, it could be a film score. In a very real way, it's is the soundtrack to the last ten years in the lives of Kristin Hersh, Bernard Georges and Dave Narcizo, the book that comes with it being a treatment for the script.
Throwing Muses have always been an example to other bands; they had a whole scene built around them in the mid 80s, and when they settled into the mid 90s alt-rock scene, a scene they had a big hand in creating, they settled near the top. Another decade after that, Kristin Hersh became a pioneer of crowdfunding for music. The better part of another decade later, Purgatory/Paradise sets an example that not many are likely to follow, albeit the same one being set this year by a number of veterans, including My Bloody Valentine, Richard Thompson and Wire: how to make a great rock album in the early 10s.
If the film to which Purgatory/Paradise could be a soundtrack existed, it would be a disjointed, meandering narrative, telling the story out of order. Before the 32 song, 67 minute long album can take hold, what does make an impression is the sound. It's not lo-fi, but it's far from slick. It's very real, very human; the drums sound like drums rather than someone bouncing a basketball in an empty church. The album was mastered with an uncommonly light touch, and given the number of soft-loud transitions, it was the only way to do it. If the sound is human, then accordingly the music is direct. Whether it's a quiet, contemplative number or a strident rocker, you can imagine three people in the studio playing those instruments, and if there's any singer who sounds as if she might crawl through the speakers Ring style at any given moment, it's Kristin Hersh. Each of the songs carves out its own space while functioning as part of the album as a whole. Paradoxically for an album with so many songs, Purgatory/Paradise should be able to remind any willing listener of a time before they had thousands of albums and when their relationship with a song was deeper because of it. In 2013, releasing 32 songs that are worth listening to would have been enough, but it wasn't enough for Throwing Muses; these songs demand to be listened to.
on 25 November 2013
Been listening to this on fairly constant rotation since the package turned up and it's up to the high standards set by earlier Throwing Muses' albums. If you wore out a cassette copy of Real Ramona, you shouldn't be disappointed.
The packaging is superb, a beautiful collection of writing, lyrics and pictures. A really solid anchoring object for the music in an era when the physical artefacts are increasingly becoming redundant.
This physical package includes instructions on how to download the album digitally, plus an instrumental version and a commentary by Kristin Hersh and Dave Narcizo, all free. The tunes stand up very well as instrumentals, ideal when you don't want your brain getting tangled up in language. The commentary is an intriguing extra for fans, discussing details of recording, inspirations and musical decisions for over an hour.
on 18 February 2014
this arrived in very good time and in great condition
probably a disc for long standing fans but just the ticket if you are, it's nice to have a hard copy to put on the shelf with the rest of the collection
on 6 December 2013
I have adored the Muses since I first discovered Hunkpapa in my college days, five years ago now and I am eternally tormented by missing out on them the first time round - I was born the year after Hunkpapa came out.
Purgatory/Paradise is a gem. The stories behind the songs are wonderful and the style of writing is made of the pure awesome that Muses/4AD fans will love with tracks like "Opiates" and "Morning Birds" already becoming firm favourites.
Don't stay away so long next time, Muses. :) You've been missed!
on 16 November 2014
If you're a fan you won't be disappointed with this - if you're new to the Muses then it's a great example of the wonders of the writing and structure that the Muses are known for - the book is lovely, the CD tucked into a sleeve at the front like they'd almost forgotten to include it. It's a lovely thing to own, great to just open to pick out bits from, and a good read - hard to put down!The album itself is great, but I love the fact that they have thought this one through a little differently...
on 4 August 2015
The Muses have been making their deeply loveable, highly idiosyncratic, music for decades now. The moments of beauty just as frequent as they have ever been.