Fond Words Regarding Madame Pamita
Pasadena Weekly Clipping
LA Weekly Clipping
Twice Selected as "Critic's Choice" in Time Out London
- Time Out London
There's something absolutely magical about the crackly sound of this album from Los Angeles-based Madame Pamita. Recorded on 1898 wax cylinder with Pamita contributing vocals and ukelele, with a range of other quirky instruments peeking in and out. Essentially this is a live CD with Pamita and friends having to sing and play everything into a cone that records the sounds onto 100 year old wax cylinders, and each track comes complete with an array of scratches, hisses and pops. Perhaps this may alienate those who like their production crisp and clean, but for me this is heaven!
The songs themselves are equally old-fashioned and for the most part clock in around the two minute mark. Opening with Madame Pamita's Theme Song which sets the template for the record, bright, breezy and old-timey without feeling kitsch. From simple sweet ditties like Love Is Good to witty tunes such as Moving Day with lyrics as retro and humorous as 'I can't get no rent out of you / pack up your things and skidoo'. B-movie musical saw comes in on the eerie and moody Willie the Chimney Sweep, a bluesy track that could've come out of a 19th century Tom Waits.
Penultimate track No Bad News is a perfectly sweet and uplifting tune that is followed by the ludicriously bizarre Malaria, sung by Patrick Weise like a long-lost advert for malaria pills no less.
Clearly this is a unique record with both feet planted firmly in the past and marinated in nostalgia, the songs are played with such conviction and charm that they may just win over a few ears afraid of flaws. I guess the easiest comparison would be the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but that sounded like it was produced by Timbaland compared to this! Here Madame Pamita has managed a difficult balancing act of creating something that sounds immediately old-fashioned - from a production and performance point of view - but manages to retain a contemporary edge.
- God is in the TV
According to Madame Pamita, 'Love is a gift for you to unwrap' and if that's true, there's a lot of love in this, the debut album from the fortune telling, old time blues singer, Madame Pamita. Opening the rough brown card packaging for 'Wax Works' I found a tarot card with my personal reading, and a cent from 1911 hand wrapped by the artist, with a note to say it would bring me good luck. Already, I was impressed. But Madame Pamita's hook is far from just visual, this is music in the true sense of steampunk; old fashioned, yet entirely modern. This feeling of subversion and rebellion never lets up for a moment, with album favourite 'He's In The Jailhouse Now' having a particularly edgy lyrical quality reminiscent of the 20's blues of Bessie Smith.
Yet there's something ironically uplifting about the songs presented here, and perhaps it's the innocence of the 'golden age' conjured up by the act as a whole, as Madame Pamita is less singer songwriter, and more performance artist, living in a persistent world that somehow marries a Ukulele with Twitter. Perhaps its the up tempo, quickly told stories of sordid souls, trapped by fast living, or the quieter, more reflective moments, the gentle plucking of the strings and the subtle shifting of octaves perfectly fitting the mood. Or just maybe its the capturing of the 'Yes We Can' attitude of recession era USA, oddly reflecting today's social climate.
This theme of timelessness is peppered throughout the recording, so whilst the production techniques were based on equipment from the turn of the twentieth century, the sound possessing the pop and crackle of cylindrical vinyl, and although the lyrics have been fashioned old, the themes are entirely anachronistic and highlight the fact that progression in the music industry really isn't that fast or often.
This is a highly original work, one that returns traditional blues to the entirely accessible genre it always used to be, removing the high watermark of musical knowledge that is so often needed for entry. Still resonant today, it goes to prove that the classics really do never go out of style, and whilst pertaining to be of the past, this is still a thoroughly modern tale of sex and drugs, just without the rock and roll...
A few weeks ago a CD arrived at Bluesinlondon Towers, beautifully packaged with arcane Faith Healer/Medicine Show style ephemera and containing a collection of old timey sounding songs recorded on, it was claimed, 19th century wax cyclinder technology. Every snap crackle and pop (and there were many) was lovely reproduced and, combined with an outsanding collection of excellent songs fantastically performed, the overall effect was a rather magnificent.
Closer inspection revealed that not only was this album genuinely recorded on wax cylinder, but Madame P. was about to embark on some shows here in London with our own Tom Rodwell which would demonstrate this recording process in live performance.
(Also includes an extensive interview with Madame Pamita)
Pick up Madame Pamita’s new album Wax Works on a ‘pay what you like’ basis. It’s an excellent album. All recorded on wax cylinders without using electricity. Essential tracks: Do Whatever You Please, Madame Pamita’s Theme Song, Malaria.
Madame Pamita is a strange duck. I’m sure she’d have no problem with that statement. Here’s a modern woman living in California who has recorded her new record on wax cylinders (ironically the same songs have been digitized and are for sale at a name your own price on her website). Furthermore at her live shows she dons a mystical outfit and reads fortunes of her audience members all the while strumming her ukelele and singing her odd songs. Her songs and those she chooses to cover are about sex, drugs, and not really rock `n’ roll (but plenty of references to death and prison and liquor).
In a world where everyone is doing some semblance of the same old thing Madame Pamita is a breath of fresh air. Her new record Madame Pamita’s Wax Works can be picked up here (comes with a fortune, a good luck penny from the 1800’s and an origami made by Pamita).
The album was recorded on wax cylinder equipment from 1898 using a recording horn once owned by Thomas Edison and no changes were made to the finished pieces. The result is a sometimes haunting, sometimes warm, but always original sound complete with plentiful portions of crackle.
While the music is great, it is completely overshadowed by the truly inspired liner notes, where Madame P gives a short synopsis of the plot of each song. For example, Willie The Chimney Sweeper (an alternate version of Cab Callaway's Minnie The Moocher) is described as follows: "Enticed into a shop of dubious repute, our heroine embarks on adventures therein". Her track Do Whatever You Please is "A minute digression of great import directing the reader to the secret font of unfettered happiness".
- Welcome To Cake Club
Right from the start, this has 'what to buy for the person who has everything' written all over it...
charmingly back-to-basics... with plenty of sassy attitude, it has a very quaint, old-Americana appeal.
- Leeds Music Scene