The Flowers of Hell – Odes


Almost more interesting than The Flowers of Hell’s cover songs is how founding member, Greg Jarvis, creates them. His rare disorder, timbre-to-shape synesthesia, allows him to actually see sounds as shapes, so all of the songs on Odes were visually constructed. Admittedly, the result is not quite as radical as the process, but this record still teems with creative arrangements and beautiful musicianship. Combine that with a list of songs written by Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Joy Division, and you have an orchestral pop record that should interest plenty of music lovers, classical or otherwise. Reed fans, especially, should have Odes on their radar with its heavy focus on Reed and Velvet Underground alumni. “Walk On The Wild Side” is given a subtle arrangement with deeper bass and clearer strings, while alternate lyrics from an old demo are given the Reed treatment by Ami Spears. An instrumental version of “Run Run Run” rides the bass-line through some classic Velvet Underground textures and improvisations, while “Mr. Tambourine Man” is done with a pitch-imperfect Nico impression by Laura Rafferty and captures a similar vibe that Nico brought to Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine.” A spaced-out vibe full of breathy synths and vocoder vocals make “O Superheroin” the most interesting interpretation; the song celebrates Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed’s marriage by combining her “O Superman” with VU’s “Heroin.”  But my favorite has to be “Calling Occupants,” a Klaatu song about contacting space aliens that really works into Jarvis’ extraterrestrial sounding arrangements.
All too often cover albums seem to bring little to the table other than a good impression of a better artist. Odes, on the other hand, brings a lot of creative energy and intelligence to some of my personal favorites, so don’t let this one pass you by. (Independent, Matthew Dyck

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