The Stinking Badger Of Java - "In A Highland Eden"
(Yippie Bean 1999, YBUFO17)
From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)
The first time I listened to this album I was at work and being busy and distracted the music came across as being somewhat mainstream songs. But I was intrigued by the vocals and after a few more attentive listens at home started to tune in. The Stinking Badger Of Java is an Australian ensemble that revolves around the songwriting team of Brigitte Kelle and Paul J. Narkiewicz. The focus is indeed on the songs, but these folks manage to combine great vocals (and vocal stylings) with interesting music that is rhythmically complex, but in a way that never takes center stage away from the songs.
The music is primarily acoustic though horns are prominent throughout, and the rhythms can be quirky and complex. Melodic, jazzy, funky, folky... sometimes I thought of Zappa. The music goes from jazzy melodic progressive rock to seemingly simple acoustic pieces. But it's the way that Kelle and Narkiewicz harmonize that gives the music much of its complexity. The vocals are rock solid with Kelle sounding like a mixture of Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Laurie Anderson. I can see the Badgers appealing to a diverse crowd as they occupy a middle ground between totally accessible yet musically adventurous with cautious forays into the avant garde.
You can visit The Stinking Badger Of Java at the Yippie Bean web site.
Spend some time cruising this site. In addition to detailed info on the Badgers there's also the interesting online version of the zine Radiation From Space.
Contact via snail mail at PO Box 194; Rosanna; Victoria 3084; Australia.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz