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The Goblin Market
Beneath Far Gondal's Foreign Sky
Green Monkey Records

"Goblin Market" (composed in April 1859, published in 1862) is a narrative poem by Christina Rossetti. In a letter to her publisher, Rossetti claimed that the poem, which is interpreted frequently as having features of remarkably sexual imagery, was not meant for children. However, in public Rossetti often stated that the poem was intended for children, and went on to write many children's poems. "Goblin Market" is about two close sisters, Laura and Lizzie, as well as the goblin beings to whom the title refers. (wikipedia.org)

Beneath Far Gondal's Foreign Sky is the third album by Seattle two-some The Goblin Market. The Goblin Market is Laura Weller and Jeff Kelly, who are to be found in the Green Pajamas - a band that has been around since the mid-80s, with 20-something albums in their catalogue. Jeff Kelly is one of the founding member, while Laura Weller has been on board since the late 90s(?). As well as the band name's taken from the world of literature, their music draws inspiration from literature (and art). The songs on their debut album, Ghostland (Camera Obscura 2001), focused on 19th Century England, pre-Raphaelite poetry and painting. Their next album, Haunted: Songs inspired by the stories of Joyce Carol Oates (Camera Obscura 2005), featured songs inspired by the gothic short stories and novels of American author Oates (b.1938). This, their third platter, goes once more back to the 19th Century, to focus on the work and lives of the Brontë sisters. The record is dedicated to the memory of Tony Dale, the founder of the Camera Obscura record label, who died two years ago.

I was a bit sceptical before putting on this disc, since I was not too enthusiastic about their Green Pajama Country! of last year. I'm also a bit tense about this 19th century 'literature' angle. Hmm, what happened to listen without prejudice? Well, I'm glad to say Beneath Far Gondal's Foreign Sky took me by surprise. Being quite a fascinating album, holding many a musical pleasure. Both Kelly and Weller are brontëmaniacs, and they've shared the song writing for this album, even though the majority is penned by Jeff Kelly. Plus the Brontë's, of course, as all but five of the twelve songs hold lyrical fragments taken from the sister's works. By Emily and Anne, but nothing by Charlotte. Except that the lyrics are heavily inspired by her prose as well.

Kelly 'blame' Kate Bush, or actually his wife for his Brontë sisters fixation/obsession. The Kelly couple were in a car once, listening to Bush's "Wuthering Heights". 'Man, what a great song,' Jeff said, while his wife Susanne replied: 'Have you ever read the book?'. Jeff said no. 'Oh my god, Jeff. You absolutely have to read that book!'. That's how it started. Laura Weller states: 'I've always been fascinated by the deep imagination and passion of their fiction and poetry. I was inspired by how their own lives, which were lived within a tight family circle, resulted in such an extraordinary explosion of creative output. That it is the imagination itself that takes us on the most extraordinary adventures, and which can produce the most vivid images of beauty and truth.'

It's not easy to pick essential songs off this record, as I believe and recommend the album shall be listened to in its entirety. Like you're reading a novel. I mean, you can't highlight certain chapters in a book (well, of course you can do so, but... you get the picture). Yet, "Song (The Linnet In The Rocky Dells)" stands out as one of the coolest tracks, as there are many a track being indeed elegant and graceful, and truly beautiful. So, if you're not much of a reader, I guess this could be sort of an alternative introduction to classic prose done laidback rock style.

Copyright © 2012 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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