NICKI MI­NAJ

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

EMINEM has Slim Shady. Bey­oncé has Sasha Fierce. Nicki Mi­naj has Ro­man Zolan­ski, her ap­par­ently gay male al­ter ego. And de­spite its con­fus­ing ti­tle, Pink Fri­day: Ro­man Reloaded, is not just a deluxe ver­sion of her first al­bum, Pink Fri­day, it’s ac­tu­ally a com­pletely new full-length record­ing.

But then again, con­fus­ing seems to be what Nicki Mi­naj does best. Her po­lar­iz­ing, schiz­o­phrenic de­liv­ery — that gen­er­ally falls some­whereh bbe­tweent a cack­lingkli Wicked Witch of the West and a Bri­tish hyena gnaw­ing on a bone — is in over­drive here. And much like her mul­ti­ple per­sonas, Ro­man Reloaded has sev­eral very dis­tinct feels.

The first half tar­gets the ur­ban crowd, with mil­i­tant rap tracks like I Am Your Leader with Cam’ron and Rick Ross. From there, she briefly flirts with slow jam R&B, like the re­gal Cham­pion with Nas, Drake, and Young Jeezy, be­fore switch­ing to cir­cus synth, pink wig­wear­ing techno-pop like the tweaky, dance floor-ready one-two punch of Pound the Alarm and Whip It.

In the end, it’s a real mixed bag. For ev­ery hit, there’s a def­i­nite miss. Grat­ing opener Ro­man Hol­i­day sees Mi­naj do­ing her best Sharon Os­bourne im­pres­sion, while first sin­gle, Star­ships, and Stupid Hoe are just plain ab­hor­rent. Sex in the Lounge will have you wait­ing for an Andy Sam­berg ap­pear­ance, as it teeters on the verge of SNL par­ody.

Per­haps next time she can rein in her mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties for a more co­her­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. ½ LIS­TEN­ING to the new al­bum from Van­cou­ver’s Said The Whale had this re­viewer search­ing for the core dif­fer­ence be­tween the ad­jec­tives “por­ten­tous” and “pre­ten­tious.” While we learned that one means “self-im­por­tant or pompous” and the other “a de­cep­tive outer ap­pear­ance of great worth” they can both be used ac­cu­rately to de­scribe this wild and woolly al­bum and band.

On its face Lit­tle Moun­tain is lis­ten­able enough, but proves dif­fi­cult to get through even more than one full lis­ten. The prob­lem lays not so much with the mu­si­cian­ship, which is sassy and tasty by turns, but the over­all de­liv­ery which, when com­bined with the ligh­tas-a-feather boy­ish vo­cals of Ben Worces­ter and Tyler Ban­croft, comes off just a lit­tle north of un­chal­leng­ing. Not that ev­ery vo­cal­ist needs to have the boom­ing grav­i­tas of a Bruce Spring­steen or Tom Waits, it’s just that these dudes sound like they need to find a boy band to front.

Climb this lit­tle mu­si­cal moun­tain with care. YOU don’t need to know that the lat­est al­bum from North Carolina col­lec­tive Lost in the Trees was in­spired by the sui­cide of song­writer Ari Picker’s mother, an artist whose picture graces the CD’S cover. How­ever, it does add depth to one’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of his ques­tion­ing lyrics, sung in a frail, high voice.

It’s not the mourn­ful out­ing you might ex­pect, although there’s plenty of pathos, es­pe­cially in the clas­si­cally trained Picker’s use of lush strings and a dra­matic word­less choir on tracks that sound al­most like a folky Ra­dio­head. Picker seems to be us­ing the songs to work through sad­ness, rather than wal­low in it; some of the more or­ches­trated tracks are down­right up­lift­ing, if melan­choly. The glo­ri­ously beau­ti­ful Golden Eye­lids is sim­i­lar to Tim­ber Tim­bre’s mix­ture of ’60s soul/r&b with haunt­ing, eerie ef­fects, while the del­i­cate, af­fect­ing The Vil­lain (I’ll Stick Around) finds Picker mus­ing, “She’s nei­ther here nor there… mess me up.”

and the Gershwins’ which has some very bluesy gui­tar by Of­fi­cer, who is a con­stant on all tracks.

For­mer Win­nipeg­ger Cameron Wal­lis plays tenor sax­o­phone on four tracks, bari­tone sax on two and ar­ranged the horns on three tracks — all done well.

Ari­oli’s take on these songs is soft, nu­anced and with sub­tle ac­com­pa­ni­ment from Of­fi­cer. STÉPHANE Denève’s fifth and final disc of the or­ches­tral mu­sic of Al­bert Rous­sel (1869-1937) fea­tures two bal­let scores in vivid per­for­mances. The Spi­der’s Ban­quet is a hu­man-fo­cused mu­si­cal equiv­a­lent of silent in­sects: a mil­i­tary march of ants, danc­ing but­ter­flies, slith­er­ing fruit worms, war­ring man­tises, an ill-fated mayfly and a spi­der-pro­tag­o­nist. Those promis­ing im­pli­ca­tions are nicely ful­filled in the cool, bril­liantly or­ches­trated score that re­calls De­bussy, though with­out the same de­gree of in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­ity in the mu­sic.

Pad­mâ­vatî is Rous­sel’s nod to The Ori­ent, in­spired by his trav­els to the an­cient city of Chit­tor in Western In­dia. The mu­sic is con­cen­trated and ab­sorb­ing with Rous­sel’s colour pal­ette draw­ing plenty of In­dian tang in the sound­scape. The best Rous­sel is con­tained in his Sym­phony No. 3 (in­cluded ear­lier in this se­ries), but this is still a fine place to start if you’re new to this of­ten un­der­re­garded com­poser. ½

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