TORI AMOS - BOYS FOR PELE
(Review from Melody Maker 20th January 1996)
by Neil Kulkarni 1-20-96
The Tori manifesto, quoted verbatim from "The Big Issue":
"Knowing what you think gives you great freedom."
Tori will be appearing on Oprah next week. As the author of "Padding Out Mediocrity: Nurturing The Inner Raccoon" she will contribute to a debate on Bedwetting And The Psychic Rubber Sheet- Did It Cause The LA Riots? (If you ain't switched to Ricki, yer dead.)
"This album is like a novel. As it came clear to me that all these songs related to each other, that they are connected chapters."
"Auto Da Fe"? "Arc D'X"? "Freaky Deaky"? "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" read by Diane Chambers. Tori searches for self-awareness. Tori reads some Jung. Tori sees a medicine woman who helps her acknowledge her inner universe. Tori sets it all to repugnantly tasteful artsy-fartsy music (this record made me gag). Various cretins, mainly ponytailed men, buy it and feel reassured by the tired cultural stereotype of attractive ARTIST, bit dippy, bit crackers, handily apolitical. (Attractive? How so? Never forget: ginger hair = freckles = tango eyebrows = can't go out in the sun = carrot-topped Belisha headed FREAKS.) Haven't Kristen, Nina Simone, Cassandra Wilson, Courtney, always had massive political resonance? Tori is the middle-class, bored, lazy retreat from political responsibility and urgency into the dead-end of introspection so characteristic of the American Artist (spit).
"I now understand my matrix, I can change the programme. Now I have access to my own garden. I can weed it, I can plant and I can harvest."
Indulging the mind is less interesting than adding to it, stretching it OUT rather than flexing it IN to this masturbatory mental work-out. Explore your own emptiness, skip stones on your surfaces, GIVE ME A TUNE MY MOTHER COULD HUM.
"You crawl to the back of your tongue, dive into this void and explore your personality. Understanding anger, honouring and knowing when it's healthy, is good."
OK, time for a little witch-hunting. Next time a pop performer calls themself an "artist" put your raygun to their head and send them on a long walk off a short sewage outlet. Pop ain't art. It's far, far more than that. The artist is conscious of nothing but the complexities of his/her own imagination; pop is the NECESSARILY UNAVOIDABLE POLITICAL recognition of a life beyond the fat flabby flatulence of the ego.
"This album is about finding my internal fire."
Well, I went on a Tia Maria and Kronenburg bender at the Godiva Balti House last night, my internal fire fell out my arse this morning, and it's a damn sight more profound than this grotesquery, this kooky mugging, this arrogant self-absorption, this monstrous solipsism, this insistence on "individual integrity", music as detergent therapy.
Stinks stinks stinks. Please end now.