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What You Want
Artist: Sacred Raisin Cakes
Label: MP3 - Indie
Length: 10 tracks / 38:54


Chances are Sacred Raisin Cakes is a band name you've never heard before, but which, if there is any justice in the world, you will be hearing a lot more about. They've taken their name from the passage in 2 Samuel 6:19 where, upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, King David shared his joy by giving a cake of raisins to every Israelite in the land. (Of course, we shall have to overlook the account in Hosea 3:1 in which the Lord chastises His people for turning to other gods and loving the sacred raisin cakes, which were offered to Baal in thanksgiving for harvest. Clearly, this is not the connotation the Boston-based band had in mind.)

Sacred Raisin Cakes (SRC) offers an unusual, and thoroughly delight-filled take on what has come to be called Industrial Folk. That certainly sounds like an oxymoron. Industrial music can sound so cold, distant, calculated and mechanical. Yet SRC manages to take full advantage of the technical wizardry available today and completely couple it with a sound that is organic, warm, and inviting. They rightly boast that their song "Neurotica" is the very definition of industrial folk: "home grown loops, acoustic guitars, fiddle, mandolin, and a killer groove." You'll have to pay attention to the lyrics to also learn that the song is a compelling lament of our culture's fixation with sex and its corruption into inappropriate images for pushing products. Listeners get two chances, though, since the song reappears to close the
album in Liquid Center Remix form.

The SRC blend of modern loops and sequences with traditional instrumentation effectively combines the sounds of dance, breakbeat pop, folk rock, and electronica into a groove-laden, sonically inspiring mix. The band's list of musical influences is as appropriately diverse as their sound: AJAX RAY-O-VAC, Kate Bush, Mark King, Kraftwerk, Level 42, Marrillion, Joni Mitchell, Michael W. Smith, Steely Dan and U2. If that appears eclectic, you're getting the point. Under the virtual tutelage of these bands and artists, SRC has worked with producer Anthony J. Resta (Collective Soul, Duran Duran, and Shawn Mullin) to create an impressive, enjoyable debut album that draws favorable comparisons to bands like Aleixa, Fleming & John, Garbage and Plumb.

The Cakes give all the appearance of being as comfortable noodling around in the studio as they do playing live, perhaps more so. In fact, three out of the four members are created with contributing to the programming. Their attention to sonic detail shows in a rich tapestry of music that thumps and bumps in the speakers while drawing the listener in with fantastic flourishes and inspired musical breaks. Sang's bass and Rocket 1's drum-lines provide a solid, thick low end, while Glenn Young's guitar work ranges widely all over the musical landscape.

At the centerpiece of each song is Aimee Bernard's rich, enthralling vocals which soothingly ride over the waves of loops and ambient guitar. Without graduating from the same sound-alike school, you can hear the influence of Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell in Bernard's compelling vocal styling: sweet, inviting, captivating. There aren't many people that can sound as passionate, pitch perfect, and sultry as Over the Rhine's Karin Berquist, but Bernard belongs on that list. Bernard is also credited with the album's lyrics, which are universally poetic, introspective and inspiring.

Other highlights of the disc include the catchy "Waterpots," a "love-gone-wrong-and-now-I'm hitting-the-road" song; "I Believe," which is a more straight-forward, upbeat pop song that could prove to be a huge hit on CCM radio, "Solace," a driving drum and bass track with a twist, and "Confession," which serves as a funky confession of faith:

    Sins of omission are sins all the same
    I can't let it be said that I played a game with Him
    I can't play to win.
    I never knew just what it meant to be His child
    Until I crossed through the wall of fire
    And all I was left holding on the other side was Jesus.
    I lost the leaky ship of my own design
    Only to wash upon the shores of Jesus.

This powerful affirmation of faith as a source of strength is also alluded to in the lush, Joni Mitchell-esque love lament "Cold Comfort:"

    Oh these mental acrobatics
    They keep me tied up in knots
    Cramps the brain and binds the heart
    But God's up in His heavens
    And He knows better than I
    He moves upon this heart to override this mind.

Featuring only a gently rolling guitar line, a subdued fiddle, and a perfect melody, "Cold Comfort" stands out as a song that is both completely different from the rest and the surprise hit of the album.

Dynamic, hip to the max, finger-snapping, toe-tapping, shake-your-booty groovy, with oodles of lyrically thought-provoking and emotionally honest inspiration to boot: this debut album may indeed be What You Want. As an unsigned band currently being shopped around to labels by an entertainment attorney, it's up to the fans and other interested parties to visit to hear and order their tunes until the CD is widely available, not just over the Internet, but in a store near you. Like King David, you can rejoice by sharing--not a cake of raisins--but a CD of the Sacred Raisin Cakes with your whole crowd of friends and loved ones.

Steven S. Baldwin   9/16/2000 



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