As I was finishing off PussyRock 2, Emilie Autumn released the amazing Opheliac EP, I decided to wait and review it in the next issue figuring it would be easy enough to review the EP and maybe even the forthcoming album. Now admittedly PussyRock 3 has been delayed but still, in less than 2 years, Emilie Autumn has managed to release --- 3 album length EPs, 2 double albums, 1 compilation album and a reissued album. There are bands who don't do that much in a ten year career. I make no apologies for reviewing them all here as I think that although EA is an amazing artist, some of her work is better than others so I thought maybe this would act as a guide to help people decide which of her releases to seek out especially as I think she's one of those artists that once you hear her stuff you invariably want to track down more of it.
(NOTE: Check under the tag Emilie Autumn for reviews of Enchant, Laced/Unlaced, A Bit O' This & That, Liar/Dead is the New Alive EP and 4 O' Clock)
OPHELIAC --- EMILIE AUTUMN
Emilie Autumn is a classically trained violinist who has worked with the likes of Billy Corgan and Courtney Love. She describes her music as "Victoriandustrial" but even that almost doesn't do her justice. She manages to weave together disparate influences like baroque chamber music and gothic industrial beats to create dazzling songs that manage to sound absolutely unique and otherworldly but still stand up as accessible pop songs. (In that sense, I would compare her to someone like Kate Bush or even Prince).
She originally released Opheliac as an EP, although the term EP doesn't quite do it justice as it still featured extras such as a personal handwritten note and a link to an Internet download/podcast. She then released Opheliac, the album, which is her masterpiece. It is one of those records that takes you into somebody's world, the good and bad, and it was stunning in its scope and excecution. Several of the songs go for a harsher, more rockier feel than those on her previous album, Enchant and she has produced some absolutely storming anthems like Misery Loves Company and Dead is the New Alive. She's managed to reinvent the violin in the same way that Rasputina have pioneered the genre of cello rock. But she always manages to balance the gothic industrial beats with a deftness of touch and there are also more brooding, contemplative numbers like The Art of Suicide and Gothic Lolita. It's an album that washes over you and is something you can truly get lost in, always returning to find a new gem --- if you overlook something, it is only because the album has so much to offer.
The second CD contains a photo gallery of live/studio shots and some video clips - a live performance from US TV and a guide to being a Victorian lady showing EA putting on her makeup and getting dressed before ending up in the bath singing Gloomy Sunday! EA has an incredible image and she's a charismatic performer. Her live performances are more akin to theatrical productions as she usually sings over a backing track with The Bloody Crumpets (a loose ensemble of models/designers/musicians) posing around her and doing everything from tea parties to en pointe ballet dancing. It's the kind of visual feast where every moment brings another taste of eye candy and she's now working on a DVD of her live performances which I'm really looking forward to. The songs on the 2nd CD showcase a more traditional/classical side alongside a couple of instrumentals and some poems set to music. The more traditional sounding songs like Marry Me are modernised with clever lyrics that highlight Emilie's quick wit. One of my personal favourites is Thank God I'm Pretty whose sarcastic black humour is allowed to shine against a sophisticated cabaret-type backing. It reminds me a bit of The Dresden Dolls and in the same way, an alternative band with a unique and theatrical edge like them have been able to break through to the mainstream so I hope Emilie's beautiful music will find a wider audience.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008
NOTE: EA has since released another version of Opheliac with more bonus features.