What is your defining genre? What groups do you have logos of on your t-shirt? Are your shirts all black with macabre scenes of religious iconography contorted to say something twisted and sacrilegious? Could fans of metal or prog, even dance music, listen to a record like the one just released by a band from Chicago called Lovely Little Girls and hear something they recognize and want to hear more? ‘Cleaning the Filth from a Delicate Frame’ is an esoteric kind of party that requires a special ear. Nothing about these seven songs will interest 96% of the party rockers in the reading audience. They are impossibly constructed, mostly, but compositionally, run the gamut of many different genres. The players on this record, seemingly, could play anything. In my ears mind’s eye I hear a history of Chicago music and beyond: jazz, rock, metal, freak, Avant, prog, punk, even reggae, etc. It is a careening carnival boat ride like that fabulous boat ride in Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory; all at once, disturbing, thrilling, frightening, repulsive, confusing, passionate, fantastic, and most importantly something you’ve never experienced before. Sure, listen carefully and you can hear, Magma, The Cardiacs, Zappa, Sabbath, Roland Kirk, etc., but that is what always impresses me with projects like this. It is just a concentrated effort by serious and talented artists to create and have fun. Now, what one considers fun is what is at question here. That is what will cut the chaff from the grain, because this music is for musicians. Elitist as it may sound, you are just going to have to be coming from a musical place to listen to this record front to back because it is challenging music that is undoubtedly breaking new ground in arrangement and difficulty. If you are a record collector ‘Cleaning the Filth’ is a must have. It is adorned with the paintings of the bands spiritual guide and central character Fatty Jubbo aka Gregory Jacobsen. The details in the album art are a singular statement that describe the music not only in form, but in color, and narrative. My only wish is that he’d had as much real estate as The Beatles designer had with the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ record which was completely squandered with its full size multi-page booklet. Jacobsen’s artwork adjacent to the musical compositions and the contributions of the other Little Girls are all part of a larger more complete audio- visual experience that works like the glorious plies Jacobsen has been painting for years. It all works. They are more cabaret than The Tiger Lillies and more musical than the Budos Band. They are unparalleled in their individuality even for the Chicago scene, but of course, have their contemporaries there. This record is fun, experimental, free, sonically rendered with expert craft. Congratulations, Lovely Little Girls! You’ve made the best record I’ve heard this year. Now, who else will listen to this and think the same thing? What will you guys do next? How do you rearrange the formula to depart from this groove that speaks so well and into the new sound? No shit. This will be a collector’s item down the road. I feel it’s very important Lovely Little Girls make another record because this is a sound and a direction that needs more attention. What’s next, Lovely Little Girls?
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Purchase your very own copy for whatever weird shit you do late at night at Skingraft Records.