The album I want to write about, in pure first impression terms, is not from an artist I know very well or am particularly passionate about. It's the oddball project from David Byrne of Talking Heads/Crazy Solo Musicology fame collaborating with Fatboy Slim of Songs That Were Popular In The 90s. The reason: It's a 2 disc concept album about Imelda Marcos.
Imelda Marcos, the infamous wife of martial law dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, of the Philippines. Best known for being a modern, Southeast Asian Marie Antoinette and for her obscene shoe collection. Joining them is an all-star cast of indie, pop and rock & roll female vocalists. It's one of those projects that's like a paper airplane: when you throw it, it will either be a perfect glide or a crazy, skittish nose dive.
Byrne, to his credit, isn't just haphazardly choosing an oddball topic. He's done his research, spent time on the islands, and I get the sense that he at least has a good hold of the context of what he's making an album about. Whether that comes through in the music is a separate story. Byrne says he's chosen this topic because the "conflation of fantasy, personal pain and politics that runs through history and that played itself out [in the Philippines] in a dramatically obvious way." For those seeking insight into the madness behind this project, I highly recommend that link. It's a long article written by Byrne himself about his time researching.
So, here is that album at long last, Here Lies Love, complete with awkward, dated portrait of Imelda Marcos as the cover art. I guess the fear is that the album might be embarassing; Perhaps it makes a caricature of the history or the country or the culture. Perhaps it might be terribly whitewashed and romanticize a dark period of Philippine history.
But what if was a totally fun, interesting, educational and, above all, sonically beautiful two disc album? That's the best we could hope for.