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Sophe Lux - Hungry Ghost (Zarathustra)

30 January 2009

I had heard the name Sophe Lux bandied about by friends and fans of Tori Amos, but it was not until the project was posed as ‘Kate Bush fronting Queen’ that I took notice. Hungry Ghost is the latest release from singer/songwriter GWYNNETH HAYNES and her Portland, Oregon bandmates. While the EP is only two songs long, there is enough seduction and redemption for an entire record.

The title track begins with punchy 70’s arena glam that’s dripping with the sugar of the Sweet and a touch of Heart. The grandiose keyboards in the mix pump up the drama even more in an over the top Styx kind of way that rides the line between the awesome and the ridiculous. “Hungry Ghost” morphs into austere, multi-layered choral harmonies and builds back up to its initial power before Haynes puts on the preacher’s collar and tries to cure America of her ills – cabaret revival style. “Seduced by the whores of culture, you have betrayed the veracity of your soul” she spits. It’s earnest and angry, in a way that borders on campy, and I couldn’t help but think of some of John Cameron Mitchell’s monologues in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Next comes “Sophia Song,” which is darker and invokes the sounds of Switchblade Symphony and Cocteau Twins while retaining some of the filigreed edges of “Hungry Ghost.” There are marching drums and haunting harmonies, and in the closing moments we are left with Haynes’ strange operatic soprano floating by as a burbling synth line softly plays beneath.

The Hungry Ghost EP is really quite a peculiar yet beguiling duo of songs. There are many ways to enjoy it, so while the press release may state the purpose of the piece as the “ritualistic soul retrieval” of “the wasteland of the American psyche,” if you’re not up for such a massive undertaking there are still plenty of aural pleasures to enjoy without analysis.