Angelique's Bouillabaisse

Angelique - Present
(Red Ant Entertainment)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)

Story by Tony Bonyata

With a melting pot of blood running through her veins - black, white, Indian, Jewish and Spanish - singer-songwriter-guitarist Angelique has just released an interesting album entitled Present, which has about as many different cultures and influences dancing through it as she does.
"I want to take people to another place," declares Angelique. "You come into the concert venue, and you're in another world - like an acid trip without the drugs. Music was originally a spiritual thing where people gathered to celebrate life or death or the coming of the harvest. To me there's a lot of energy and power in that: pure celebration, without boundaries and restrictions."
That power is evident on the opening cut , "Number", complete with agitating, muffled vocals, raw, gritty guitars and a subject that deals with the totalitarianism of a Big Brother society. This might lead one to believe that she may be trying to fill, angst-ridden alternative diva, P.J. Harvey's Doc Martens, but deeper listening reveals that Angelique wants to do quite a bit more.
Mixing hip-hop, a music she fell in love with in her teens while growing up in L.A., along with low-tech electronic noodlings, Angelique raps poetically on the hip "Rose Colored Glasses" as well as adding concrete trip-hop rhythms which anchors the floating melody and ethereal vocals that almost evaporate on "Losing Your Way". On "What Love Is" she ponders over the meaning of love before briefly convulsing into a wrenching, primal scream therapy tantrum, while the jazzy flute and Spanish-flavored guitar on "I Wish I Could Go To Paris" offers a sunny-side-up outlook to this album.
While Angelique's multi-faceted bandmembers may not be household names, some of the people they have worked for certainly are. Keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac has played with the Rolling Stones, as well as Seal. She has also secured the talents of Fiona Apple's drummer, Larry Ciancia, Alanis Morrisette's bassist, Chris Chaney, and Chris Vrenna who used to be the drummer for Nine Inch Nails. "I'm so lucky," admits Angelique. "Their music has a lot of diverse elements in it. I can't find someone who just plays ock, because then they wouldn't be able to incorporate the various elements of hip-hop, drum-and-bass, electronica and pop."
With an obvious penchant for 10,000 Maniacs' Natalie Merchant on the irresistible pop tunes "The Watcher" and "At The Chime Of A City Clock", with it's Middle-Eastern spicings, as well as the hypnotic "Holy Waters" with it's brooding bass-line, absinthe-laced vocals and hook-filled chorus, she proves to be no stranger to the craft of songwriting.
Angelique offers up a bouillabaisse of songs on Present that are as strong and varied as her blood-line.

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