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4.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy and otherworldly outing, 28 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Before the Poison (Audio CD)
In Marianne's book Memories, Dreams and Reflections, the chapter Mind Movies discusses the songs & musicians on this album where she collaborates extensively with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave. There are three Harvey covers: Mystery Of Love, My Friends Have and No Child Of Mine, whilst the title track and In The Factory are co-written by them with Marianne contributing lyrics. Nick Cave features as music composer on Crazy Love, There Is A Ghost and Desperanto.

The style varies from the percussive guitar rock of My Friends Have and the tuneful pop ballad Crazy Love with its lovely piano & violins to the bluesy dirge for England titled Last Song and the slow mournful rock of No Child Of Mine with its complex and stirring vocal interplay. The title track was inspired by the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway by a doomsday cult; it's so gloomy it would have made Nico of the Velvet Underground proud.

Equally mournful, the lamentation There Is A Ghost with its melancholic piano against eerie synths commemorates all the millions slain. Although more obliquely expressed, it shares the theme of The Faith on Dear Heather by Leonard Cohen and The Ghost of You by Siouxsie & The Banshees. The nameless dead are forgotten by all but the Eternal Divine whose sorrow & anger are so well explained by Abraham Heschel in The Prophets.

In The Factory is a slab of slow brooding rock with great guitar work and a melancholy chorus, whilst the rhythmic and uptempo Desperanto rocks on in an atmospheric drone of guitars, synths and a male choir. The masterpiece of this album is the last track, City Of Quartz. An eerie poem with enchanting music box sounds, it deals with the narcissistic or psychopathic personality that considers human beings as objects to be used.

As an elegiac song cycle in which grief and sorrow find other-worldly expression, this recording is the complete opposite of its predecessor, the optimistic pop album Kissin' Time of 2002. I do not think Before The Poison is on the level of her classics like Vagabond Ways or the Island records trio Broken English, Dangerous Acquaintances and A Child's Adventure, but Faithfull's fans will appreciate it.
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