Dark Blue World

The Perilous Beauty of Madness (Drip Audio)

Lou Reed, Diamanda Galás, Nick Cave, Patti Smith—these are Elizabeth Fischer’s artistic peers, smart people unafraid to face horror and yet resilient enough to come home from the underworld with a strange harvest of wonder. Vancouver being what it is, though, a fair portion of the hometown crowd probably sees Fischer more as a weird old bird with an odd accent and an unacceptably pessimistic—i.e., Hungarian—world-view.

Her Dark Blue World quintet’s second release, The Perilous Beauty of Madness, should change that perception, though. (It should change that perception, but it probably won’t. Ha ha, as Fischer herself would say.) The timid will still have to negotiate Fischer’s uniquely lugubrious vocal style—part witchy incantation, part cry from the crypt—but that’s never been easier, thanks to an extraordinary band and the equally spectacular engineering work of long-time accomplice Greg Reely. The twining guitars of Gord Grdina and Chad MacQuarrie strike an especially potent balance between jazz intellect and rock abandon, and Fischer returns to familiar concerns—addiction, despair, self-delusion—with some surprisingly supple vocal phrasing, and even a degree of sweetness, at least on the haunting “I Looked for You”.

Those feelings turn bittersweet soon enough, but their presence is a sign that Fischer’s open to all sorts of inspiration. So do yourself a favour and be open to her fiercely ambitious ensemble, which plays a CD-release party for The Perilous Beauty of Madness at Chapel Arts on Friday (June 12).