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To Venus and Back

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Amos on Automatic Pilot ''To Venus''

    Tori Amos' two-disc release, ''To Venus and Back'', is probably her least essential and is not the best introduction to the songwriter or her music. Disc 1 is a burbling electronic mess- Amos' voice and piano drown in a sea of techno-trance noise. Disc 2 is a bit better, but almost all of the live tracks can be found on her best recordings, ''Little Earthquakes'' and ''Under the Pink.'' For diehard fans only.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Still Orbiting

    Tori Amos¿ fifth and final disc of the millennium, To Venus and Back, comes packed to the rafters with 11 new studio tracks and 13 live tunes from Amos¿ ¿98 Plugged Tour. Kicking things off with its synthesized tsunami swells and sublimely simple minor-key piano-figure, ¿Bliss¿ quickly skips into an upbeat, oh-so-typically-Tori chorus (complete with a Señor Wences-precious pronunciation of the title word). From there, Venus unspools as a series of woozy grooves, establishing itself as a not-altogether-illegitimate sibling to Madonna¿s Ray of Light. Like that 1998 release, Amos¿ latest is much more about feel and flow than it is about songs and singles, and both share a certain tuggingly irresistible undertow. Headphones are highly recommended, for only through such an immediate medium can subtle cuts like ¿Lush¿ ¿ with its asylum oubliette echoes ¿ and ¿Josephine¿ ¿ which evokes a homesick Napoleon marching heartbroken and horny into the winter of his discontent ¿ be fully appreciated in all their aural glory. Elsewhere, ¿Concertina¿ coasts on its sweetly insistent synthesizer-line, and ¿1000 Oceans¿ is either one of the most refreshingly straight-forward ballads Amos has ever wrapped her habitually sibilant lips around or a song so god-awful mawkish even Celine Dion wouldn¿t be caught dead covering it. Some things, only time can decide. If Venus¿ first disc sometimes seems too low-key non-confrontational for its own good, disc two commits the opposite sin. Clocking in at nearly six minutes each and loaded with bloated codas, the songs here are constantly crossing the line between intensely-felt transfiguration and just plain trilling overkill. While some songs succeed (¿Precious Things,¿ ¿Sugar¿), others merely pummel our patience (¿Cruel,¿ ¿Waitress¿). But even at her less-than-best, Amos still proves herself capable of finding diamonds in dross, as her full-band refurnishings of ¿Space Dog¿ ¿ with its scat-fractured piano and relentless Peter Gunn bassline ¿ and ¿Bells For Her¿ ¿ whose Exorcist-sinister piano and sparse, spectral guitar effectively transform a hauntingly-embalmed hymn into a full-blooded frightfest ¿ ably attest. Tori Amos is the first to admit that her music is an acquired taste ¿ ¿anchovies,¿ as opposed to ¿potato chips.¿ And, yes, she can certainly be one spooky chanteuse. Whether she¿s suckling pot-bellied pigs, cavorting with constrictors, or fraternizing with Faeries, the woman has an almost uncanny knack for insinuating herself just inches under the status quo¿s collectively prickly skin. Now, there may be no more appropriate a moment to reflect that, not so many centuries ago, a presence as vexingly bedeviling as Tori Amos would have been publicly shunned; locked in stocks; purged by pyre. Indeed, it is semi-tempting to speculate that that blazing scarlet ¿A¿ Nathaniel Hawthorne saw fit to stitch to his most infamous heroine may have, in fact, stood for something never before suspected ¿ not a 17th-century sin but a 20th-century surname ¿ and that, even then, it was borne not as a symbol of shame but as a blood-red reminder of the necessity of expressing one¿s art with uncompromising honesty and of living one¿s life forever unrepentant and unafraid, one exorcism to the next.

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