Orion Rigel Dommisse: What I Want From You Is Sweet
This bears all the warning signs of another belated freak-folk entry: Production credited to Greg Weeks of Espers, numerous contributions from him and Philadelphia folk troubadours Fern Knight, and woodsy cover art that, well, screams it. Yet, miraculously, Orion Rigel Dommisse’s debut skips over the imploding, all-but-stagnant genre without a second glance.
Yes, her soft, sweet vocals recall the movement’s godmother, Vashti Bunyan—another close Weeks cohort—but beyond is something entirely different. Rooted in chamber arrangements—primarily piano and electronic cello, with harp, Wurlitzer, violin, and guitar making sly appearances—What I Want From You calls up something between the tight chamber folk of Nina Nastasia and the copped klezmer of Mirah’s last Spectratone International-backed disc, Share This Place.
The latter, to its detriment, was cutesy to the point of condescension, while most every thing Nastasia has a seeping, gray cloud tethered behind it. Dommisse’s music, on its face, is near-playful: the waltzes, the way she almost flauntingly throws her voice around, the Wurli (the base sound of “A Faceless Death”) and its prepackaged circus images. Beyond that—and she goes way beyond—Dommisse is giving us a depression session that makes Nastasia’s cloud look like cotton candy. Opener “Fake Yer Death” (“burn your house down/ leave some bones”) recalls her street days; “A Faceless Death” is about knocking yourself off, sans will, just to leave a mess for your survivors; and “Suicide Kiss (Because Dead)” is a cover from the soundtrack to Takashi Miike’s supremely fucked-up movie Suicide Club. “Drink Yourself (To Death)” speaks for itself. And, as the words reveal themselves, so do the dark tones beneath the playfulness, the dread-filled progressions, the funereal melodies. You realize everything is, in fact, oozing drama. And it’s a drama freak-folk was never able to bear.