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I think [pop musicians] sort of work on a more improvisational sort of landscape and do really well with that, as do jazz musicians. They do really well when you say ‘ok, we need to find a new chord, let’s just jam.’ Classical music doesn’t work that way. In a way, that’s why the record is what it was, because every note was written down.
Matt Mazur, long-time Pop Matters writer and Tori fan, has come through again with an excellent review of Night of Hunters, followed up by an equally-excellent interview, both of which appeared in a feature piece on PopMatters.com today.
Their conversation is quite extensive with Tori providing expansive responses to Matt’s questions, hitting on the album’s evolution and construction, the nature of Tash’s vocal constributions to the record, the challenges of working and touring with classical musicians and culminating with a look back at the Doll Posse.
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms: Tori Amos Goes Hunting
By Matt Mazur
PopMatters Contributing Editor
19 September 2011
Charles Laughton’s 1955 classic filmed fable The Night of the Hunter has always been a film I credit as one of the key works that altered my perception of film forever, much in the way Tori Amos’ work shaped my perception of music when I first came to know her landmark work Boys for Pele. They both left lasting marks on me. Amos melded these two worlds, the musical and the cinematic, when she posed as a righteous woman in a rocking chair with a shotgun on the Pele cover precisely the way Lillian Gish did in the film as Rachel, salt-of-the-earth savior of wayward orphans John and Pearl. I remember thinking anyone who references Lillian Gish on their biggest CD to date must have solid brass cojones. That was before I even heard one note of the staggering harpsichord banshee hinjinks that were waiting on the disc, with such Tori classics as “Blood Roses”, “Father Lucifer”, and “Professional Widow”.
On that epic record, Amos covers much of the same territory that John and Pearl do as they float down a glittering black river, lost in a cruelly stark landscape with a demonic, serial-killer stepfather—who has just slit their mother’s throat and left her at the bottom of the very river they’ve escaped on – out to murder them. This man, played by Robert Mitchum, is a Christian preacher with the words “love” and “hate” tattooed on his fingers. On her newest record, Night of Hunters, Tori finds herself in this familiar, often-perilous milieu, at the intersection of the spiritual, the supernatural, and the feminine. The thing that The Night of the Hunter has in common with Night of Hunters is that both have a deceptive quality about them, and both are unexpectedly dark visions with serious subtext and nuances to them that take much more time and thought than the typical music press is allowed time or space to properly unpack.