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Plague Songs, 4AD
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The Independent Culture

The best ideas are usually the simplest. Like this project: ten artists' depictions in song of the ten Biblical plagues. The skill lies in choosing the right performers, and nearly all these are perfect for their plague. Rapper Klashnekoff relates the first plague, "Blood", to violent undercurrents in modern society; King Creosote's "Relate the Tale" (frogs), Eno & Robert Wyatt's "Flies", Imogen Heap's "Glittering Cloud" (locusts) and Laurie Anderson's "The Fifth Plague" (death of livestock) all sympathise with the poor plague agents so abused by God; and Stephin Merritt's "The Meaning of Lice" incorporates into its perky electro-pop a theological argument of droll intelligence. Scott Walker evokes "Darkness" through an acappella aria of suitable opacity, while Rufus Wainwright draws on personal bereavement for the blues ballad "Katonah" (death of the firstborn). Oddest of all is The Tiger Lillies' "Hailstones", in which melancholy piano and bowed saw accompany a tale of a man taking Class A drugs in a tin shed whilst hail beats a tattoo on the roof, then leaving the shack and being struck dead by a huge hailstone. And the moral is?

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Relate the Tale', 'The Meaning of Lice', 'Glittering Cloud', 'Blood', 'Flies'