Imagine drifting through a woman’s dreams, exploring her identity in small glimpses through the eyes of men. Only Jarboe, renowned vocalist, experimental musician and Swans alumni, could properly execute such an unusual project. After six years in the studio working with an eclectic roster of musicians, she has released The Men Album, 20 tracks spanning two discs that bring her vision to life.Strands of electronica, industrial, gothic, jazz and noise weave together around the voices of Jarboe and her collaborators, creating a diverse journey ranging from ethereal to nightmarish soundscapes. The captivating beauty of Jarboe’s voice isn’t the centerpiece; it’s the common theme that unites the assembled elements. She utilizes everything from fleeting whispers to potent howls to breathe life into the dreamscape. As a concept album, there are few tracks that would stand out on their own strength. Instead all the pieces fit together to complete a picture that’s still barely viewable through a clouded lens.
The army of talent backing Jarboe on this odyssey alone makes this album a worthy listen. Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan) lends her bass and violin talents throughout the album and also on the road. Another driving force behind this project and member of Jarboe’s live act, Nic Le Ban, handles guitar and vocal duties scattered throughout the album. From her previous collaboration with Neurosis, Jarboe retains Steve Von Till on the dark brooding track “Feral.” Industrial legends Jim Thirlwell (Foetus), Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten, the Bad Seeds), Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Ministry), David J (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets) and William Faith (Faith & the Muse, Tweaker) all make appearances as well.
The Men Album stumbles and lurches, twists and turns, drops just out of range and then reemerges with wailing intensity. As a whole it is haunting and captivating, much like the artist herself.