Cartwheels Through the Cosmos
Imagine living on a steady diet of, say, Frank Sinatra only to suddenly find Jimi Hendrix pumping through your headphones. Such is the effect Fay Victor’s curiously (though, as it turns out, entirely aptly) titled Cartwheels Through the Cosmos is likely to have on unsuspecting listeners. Forget the Fay of the past. Her previous discs, though marvelously inventive and deliciously outré, were merely an appetizer to this psychedelic smorgasbord of original material (all co-written with her longtime collaborator, Jochem van Dijk).
This seven-track magic carpet ride, which owes every bit as much to her bold bandmates—guitarist Anders Nilsson, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Michael “TA” Thompson—as it does to the fearless Fay, is anything but smooth sailing. It’s rather like performing acrobatics atop a moving rollercoaster, as the foursome travel from the thundering self-affirmation of “Leap of Faith,” on to the sly “Exchange Rate” that overlays a meander through a vibrant African marketplace with thoughts of the 18th-century slave trade, into an end-of-the-world anthem masquerading as a soothing bossa nova, and further down its twisted path to the naked yearning of “Stray Dogs” and buoyant philosophizing (is existence just a dream?) of “Earth.” It’s a borderless, cacophonous, in-your-face experiment in tone poetry and free-form expression. It’s tough. It’s gutsy. It’s brilliant.