w/Antony and the Johnsons
Sat Sept 17, Triple Door, 8 pm,
$18 adv/$20 DOS.
The packaging of Noah's Ark, CocoRosie's second and newest album, is at least two kinds of jarring. Before you reach the Casady sisters' rock-a-bye yowls, you notice the cover: three unicorns in a sexually uncomfortable pile. One, breasts pierced with diamonds, is vomiting rainbows. Inside, printed across from a Jewish Care Bear, is a beaded, mournfully glorious photo of the band, AKA sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady. Their smiles are flat, like dusty pioneers wishing for a wider aperture. The dedication? To Our Mother.
"She was on tour with us," explains younger-sister Bianca of the familial nod. "On 'Noah's Ark Song,' the part that my sister sings is a prayer [our mother] wrote for all her children." The tune is simple, hymn-like, especially as relayed in older-sister Sierra's honeycake croon. "Bring me sweet dreams tonight/and help me be good tomorrow." Like all of CocoRosie's songs, it hovers somewhere between lullaby and opera, Lomax's field recordings and Little Orphan Annie quirk.
Flashback to 2003. Speaking of Little Orphan Annie, Sierra and Bianca had spent a long time not talking (Note to gossipmongers: not talking does not equal fighting). Sierra was studying music in Montmartre, and Bianca was in New York, designing lingerie and teaching poetry to high-schoolers. Suddenly, and for unexplainable "abrupt and strange reasons," Bianca left the Big Apple and knocked on her sister's door, explaining, "I was just trying to get away." After reconnecting, the sisters gave birth to the lovely and haunting La maison de mon reve (Touch and Go), as recorded on a four-track; in a bathtub; with, naturellement, chain belts for percussion.
The Casady sisters are privileged: Bianca dreams of a life filled with sweet, sweet love, crashworthy couches, and no anchor heavier than a cell phone. The girls are dreamy, but they are also loyal to these dreams. They are beautiful like Frida Kahlo, like Henry Darger's butterfly children. Take, for example, junior high. Bianca, who still cuts her hair "like animals," wore green wigs and rainbow eyelashes to class. "I think I enjoyed it," she remembers. "I didn't feel connected to any of my peers, so their disapproval was unaffecting." Pause. "I feel like I finally have some peers now, maybe 5 or 10 other artists that I see frequently and collaborate with and connect to."
If La maison is the story of two sisters and a city, Noah's Ark, recorded in pieces during CocoRosie's 2004 tour, is a documentary of meetings with said peers, of collaborations in barns and hotel rooms and studios. There are French beat-boxers (Spleen) and androgynous folksters (Antony without his Johnsons), coffee-grinders and LP fuzz, Maya Deren, James Baldwin, and a nephew's cry. At times, it is easy to feel like a 4-year-old peering into a kaleidoscope, and it is perhaps easier to write the work off as a puff of precociousness and smoke. Look closer, though, and you'll see the angles and the light, the bits of colored glass building to a whole. Jean Genet, "a devil's child with dove wings" ("Beautiful Boyz"), is the record's muse, and many of the songs tread on po-mo toes. "'Armageddon,'" relates Bianca, "is about a middle-aged, white, middle-class American male. It's about the Armageddon within the individual, about feeling everything crash down."
As evidenced by their tours with Bright Eyes, TV on the Radio, and Blonde Redhead, CocoRosie are quite the thing in the world of soft hearts and too much eyeliner. "This is the most I've dedicated myself to one specific project," says Sierra. Currently, she's juggling Metallic Falcons, a "baby metal" band with Mattea Bearn, and, with the help of business partner Melissa Shimkovitz, a new record/DVD/book label, Voodoo Eros. The first release, The Enlightened Family, is a softly glowing collection of "lost songs" from Brooklyn and beyond. It's one of those lovely things best heard with lace and smudgy candelabras.
When asked just how she stitches her exquisite corpses so neatly, Bianca mentions "chemicals creating fireworks. That's where I find poetry, in the combination of opposing elements. It's this process of trying to break down the relevance of some of these symbols—swastikas and crosses and random muses—and juxtaposing them to create a strange kind of dialogue or relationship." She stops; you press email@example.com