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Happy Rhodes—Many Worlds Are Born Tonight

Release info:

1998—Samson Music—GC0141


See Auntie Social Music—Happy Rhodes' Official website for current availability

Ecto priority:

Must have

Group members:

Happy Rhodes—sequencing, programming, sampling, vocals, guitars, hand percussion

Guest artists:

Kevin Bartlett—jug, vase, linguini grill, log drum, bongos, mini bjembe, chimes, bass, harmonic and original e-bow, drippy bass, shadow e-bow, bass loop, hand percussion
Jerry Marotta—drums, percussion, Barney Rubble drums, nails of goat, "Oh"
Carl Adami—bass, bass loopie things
Kelly Bird—additional vocals
Mitch Elrod—additional vocals
Rob Taylor—violin

Produced by:

Happy Rhodes


and i am once again transported to happybliss, the exquisite melodies unfurling all around me like a cool breeze on a summer night
this is beyond
this is before this is music and rapture and joy

and when my head returns to my body i will write in more depth
but for now
many worlds were indeed born tonight
this is so pretty....
i like the melodic hook from "Tragic"
"Jork" is "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight", but more so
and more later (

textured, layered, ambient-ish pop tunes (no, that's not an oxymoron), but i doubt there's a breakout album here. it's less commercial-sounding than building the colossus (an album i rather liked; in fact, half of me wishes that the new record was a meatier version thereof—i still long for the days of the power quartet/sextet that rocked the middle east and the bottom line), but i think many worlds are born tonight could catch the electronica wave and find some success in those circles. inadvertently or not. (

I'll just say it's definitely worth getting, the packaging is superb, and I'll have to listen to it some more before I can decide where it falls in comparison with the other albums. It's definitely different than her previous stuff—but a natural progression—much more electronic. It strikes me in many ways as being Happy's soundtrack to BladeRunner. Also less pop than I expected her first major label release to be. "Serenading Genius" seems to be the standout track for me so far—kind of "Feed the Fire, Pt. 2."
     Later: My number one album of the year. I have to say this is probably the album I played most this year. I was a little surprised at how electronic it was, and on first listen, a little disappointed in the lyrics—they seemed a little repetitive and not as "interior" as Happy's previous efforts. (Happy has always been an artist whose music has the feel of wrapping oneself up in a warm blanket on a cold winter day) but after a few listens this album really grew on me. (

So far the tracks I can't resist looping over are "100 Years", "If Wishes Were Horses, How Beggars Would Ride", and "Tragic". "Ra Is a Busy God", "Proof", and "Winter" are rapidly growing on me. And I like the rest, although they haven't commanded my attention the way these other songs do. "100 Years" is such a great opening track, too—to have something that wonderful to draw me into the album is a real treat. (And as a system administrator by trade, the poignancy of song about a computer wondering where its humans went is especially appealing to me.)
     "If Wishes Were Horses, How Beggars Will Ride" is easily my favorite song on the album at this point, although it took a few listens before it worked its way up to that point. What I vaguely remember from months ago is that although I initially didn't pay much attention to the song, bits of it kept drifting into my consciousness when I wasn't listening to it. Then I listened to it with attention and WOW. The wonderful layered vocals kept coming back to me.
     One of the things that strikes me about Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is that it has seems to have such a deeper, richer sound than Happy's previous albums, which is not to say that her other albums are sonically flat as much as that it seems Many Worlds Are Born Tonight has more variety and sophistication in its synth sounds and production. (

Wow. Her best, richest, most consistent album since Warpaint. The sounds are beautifully balanced, and (despite fears I had of it being more of a trance/techno album than before) the songwriting and singing is as full as ever.
     She reveals even more new voices on this one, the slightly fried sound on "Looking Over Cliffs" and a childlike chorus on "Ra Is A Busy God".
     I also don't hear "Roy" as a single, despite it having a clear thump one can tap a foot to easily. I would go for "Serenading Genius", though I would go for a mix that brought the lead vocals forward. Vocally (though not contentwise) (and this is *not* a criticism) it reminds me of the best performances of Karen Carpenter or Anne Murray.
     I think one factor here may be that the subject matter of the songs on Many Worlds Are Born Tonight are somewhat more distanced than the ones on Warpaint, with the focus on the science fictional and more general topics. Similarly, I find Building the Colossus to be a more "emotional" album than Equipoise, with, again, the more personal focus in it (by which I mean it's easier to see how songs like "If I Ever See the Girl Again" and "Just Like Tivoli" might directly relate to someone living Happy's day-to-day life than how "He Will Come" or "The Flight" might) (but on the other hand, each album has songs that go against these trends, such as "I Say" and "Down, Down"). (

Happy really outdid herself with this album. After a month or two of playing it at least once a day, I thought I would get sick of it. Silly me. While I've slacked off on the repeated listenings, I still play it very, very frequently, and still love it.
     This is *very* clearly a continuation of the road Happy started on with her tracks for the Aural Gratification Ambient collections. But it's rather different from Building the Colossus—she accomplishes what I suspect she wanted to do there, but didn't quite pull off (quite obviously, in MY opinion! ;-).
     Way back when, when Kevin wrote to ecto about the Ambient collections (must have been in fall '95), he made some comment about how scary-good Happy was "at this stuff." I really think that having to work within an essentially instrumental, ambient metaphor prepared her to create Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. At this point, I just wish she would have included an instrumental or two on the new album!
     If you don't like "Roy", listen again, listen again! When I first heard the sample that Samson posted before the album's release, I actually *worried*, very briefly, about what I would think of the new album. On first listen, I found "Roy" to be the least interesting song on the album, and I suppose it stayed as such for my first several times through...'til one day when I caught myself singing the chorus.
     I *love* the way she reveals Roy's character. Sparsely, to be sure, but the words she's chosen to use, to me, are incredibly evocative. The different voices, the pleading, the frustration of realizing you're perhaps more human that you'd realized, thanks to your mortality, and also thanks to your "birthright." Also note that the song has lyrics that *aren't* printed—the heavily distorted stuff after the call-and-response voice and violin section, before the violin solo. "I'm afraid to close my eyes." Wow. *My* only quibble with the song is the grammatical error —"four short years does not a life time make."
     Am I the only one who's reminded of the end of "Walk Straight Down the Middle" by Happy's "bird call" during the call-and-response section?
     I do, though, wonder who the intended audience is for "Roy" as the choice for a single, though I think that "Roy" was a good choice in that it *does* have a killer hook. Is this where I comment again on how much I love "Roy" and how poignant it is? ;-)
     I'll claim "Tragic" as my favorite song on the album because I just can't get "I see you because you are tragic / and I need you for the same" out of my head. Though "Looking Over Cliffs", with "Anywhere you go / here or beyond / nothing can stop me from finding what dream you're on" (er, did I get that right?) is a *real* close contender. That verse just flips me out, both lyrically and in its delivery.
     I've decided that I totally adore "100 Years." and find it a beautiful and tragic piece. It brings two things to mind. One is that I keep thinking of the house in Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the final short-story/chapter in The Martian Chronicles. The other is that the computer is describing the world that's left after the character singing in "Runners" (from Equipoise) has no place left to hide...kind of a cool sequel.
     Later: My second copy of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight arrived today, the Euro release with "How It Should Be."
     It was worth every penny, and I have no qualms about dropping that money for a single new Happy track. And this one is fabu. It's an interesting blend of the organic electronica of the rest of the album, but has a strummy acoustic guitar fairly prominent in the mix. It's a *really* good song. The strummingest guitar on Many Worlds.
     I can't help but wonder if this track was originally intended as a b-side for a single which never happened.
     This album is SO GOOD IT'S FRIGHTENING. In case you hadn't noticed. (

Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is a very, very different album for Happy. This is a dense, highly textured, electronic, partially science fiction-themed album. Electronica pop with vocals, most of it is unlike anything she's done before.
     The album is packed with SF sound effects and Happy's trademark multi-octave vocal dubs. Songs range from the unlikely weird rock of "Roy (Back From The Offworld)" (it's about the Rutger Hauer character in the film Blade Runner) to the snow-covered wasteland soundscapes of "Winter" (*not* the Tori Amos song) to the lush, Native American anthem "Looking Over Cliffs." I love it, very much, but it took many listenings to fully understand and appreciate.
     I can't see anyone going without listening to these songs when the album is in their possession: "Tragic", "Looking Over Cliffs", "Winter", "Serenading Genius" (those are my very very favorite songs on the album). Then later, very electronic, but not so much as others: "The Chariot", "Ra Is A Busy God", "If Wishes Were Horses, How Beggars Would Ride" (truly wonderful, once your mind gets used to and lets the electronics fade into the background and you can focus on her voice and the lyrics.) Then later still, *the* most "electronic" cuts: "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight" (a song she did live for a couple of years before the album got recorded, and so a lot of us will refer to this track by its working title, "Jork") "100 Years" (which really didn't do anything for me until I really paid attention to the lyrics and saw it live. Now I think it's great.) Then way later still: "Roy (Back From The Offworld)" and "Proof" (those come last simply because they're my least favorite on the album, not because I think they're the killer tracks. Though "Roy" does have a truly lovely violin solo and goosebump-inducing Happy-ese vocals in the middle, and live, this song *rocked* quarries.)
     (Happy-ese: when Happy isn't singing actual lyrics but rather using her voice as a...oh, what?...LSD trip?, uh...alien spacecraft? Diva in The Fifth Element?...close, but...not instrument, there's no instrument like what she, er, um...oh hell, sings without lyrics, though that sounds!)
     The first time I listened to it I couldn't help but think that it would be a controversial album..."too electronic" maybe. I thought it was, but got over it quick enough and came to love it. I don't yet know where it will "fit" in my list. I may not know that for months. Though I loved most of the songs right away, the album as a whole didn't "click" with me until a couple of days ago, and now I'm totally besotted with it all.
     Except, ok, I'm still not into "Roy" but I'm not giving up on it yet. I love the middle instrumental section, but can't handle the repetition of the lyrics. I hate to say it (Happy forgive me), but it's too simplistic for me. Blade Runner is one of my all-time favorite films (in the top 5) and I don't think that Happy did the movie or the character of Roy Justice. Not when, on the same album, there are epics like "Looking Over Cliffs" and "Serenading Genius." Incorporating the character of Roy into a repetitive pop/rock song makes me cringe. (At least, until the instrumental begins, then I sigh with bliss). One thing about it though, the repetition does make it catchy. I find myself humming it and then realizing with surprise what it is I'm humming. There are worse song viruses to catch. (

"Tragic" and "Looking Over Cliffs" are my favorite songs on Many Worlds Are Born Tonight.
     I fell in love with the second half of this album on my first listen. Songs like "Tragic" and "Looking Over Cliffs" are instant Happy classics. And, "Proof" reminded me of something that should be on David Bowie's Outside. But the first half of the album actually didn't click with me until last week when I was listening to it and it all just seemed to work. The whole CD just has a wonderfully lush feel to it and shows that even though I didn't think there was any need for improvement, Happy just keeps getting better. (

I LOVE IT!!! It has a perfect mix of ambient electronic and acoustic instrumentation which I thought Building The Colossus suffered slightly from. Happy's vocal harmonizing is brilliant! Right now I think my current fave is "The Chariot". It's one of the most beautiful, haunting songs I've ever heard. (

Yes, wow. This is a major advance from Building The Colossus (which I still love and which hooked me into the Happy fold). Her voice, the violin, her harmonies, her clarity, the measured and expert electronically woven layers.... No single itsy drop of disappointment between my ears.
     My favorite song? All of them. "Winter" took my breath away. She is every bit as good as she was and now so much better in all the ways there are to be good. (

The verdict: Bravo Happy. Great album, but much more complex than anything she has put out before.
     There are four songs that stand out for me: "100 years": My absolute favorite so far. There's so much happening in this song lyrically, vocally, and musically. "Many worlds are born tonight": Love the chanting and the mood. "Ra is a busy god": I was wondering why it sounded so familiar. Listening to it on my way back from work with the volume cranked up in my car made the difference. PLAY IT LOUD! "Proof": My second favorite song.
     The rest will take more time for me to get used to, but either one of the above songs is single-worthy, in my opinion. (

Even though I'd liked Happy's music before, after the disappointing (to me) Building the Colossus, I was hesitant to get the new album. I was afraid I'd get burned. But Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, to me, is a cross-pollination of types of music—the ethereal and the machine-made.
     My ex-boyfriend had recently gotten me interested in the music of Autechre, Aphex Twin, SeeFeel, among other such artists. The emotional, abstract mathematics of this music drew me into imaginary topographies; in a way, it transcends Eno's ambient excursions, because Eno's music, for all of its aural sophistication, still is connected to distinct emotions, like longing and awe. The musics of these groups are often built upon shifting patterns—of rhythms, sound effects. These "soundscapes" suggest the otherworldly, not so much in a supernatural sense. Rather, it suggests incorporeality as heightened senses and chemically-induced out-of-body experiences, or the natural phenomena as viewed by aliens. Synaesthesia seems to be the state these groups seem intent on provoking in the listener. The song titles of Autechre and Aphex Twin reflect this disconnection from the any known referents—they make up words, and in Aphex Twin's masterpiece, Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2, the pieces are represented by pictures. The connection between the ghostly, "sampled" pieces of music and scientific abstraction which mimic but do not exactly evoke emotions and memories fascinates me.
     Many Worlds Are Born Tonight impressed me because both because, aurally, it has a faint connection to the music mentioned above—as a sort of spiritual goddaughter, perhaps—and also because of its thematic content. Death seems to a consistent theme through out this cd. The use of the lexicon of electronica—abstract sounds, sampled voices, shifting patterns—works perfectly. "100 Years" is about being trapped in a failed body; "The Chariot", a longing for death; and the majestic "Winter" about looking back on a life. The harmony between the soaring voice and the echoey, lush sound effects is moving. The machine imagery juxtaposed with the body imagery creates is unsettling; but it highlights (in a postmodern way) a desire to shed "this mortal coil." (

With Many Worlds Are Born Tonight I was as unimpressed as one can be with any of Happy's music. I liked it, but it just didn't speak to me inside like Rhodes I and II did. Am I the only one who is a traditionalist here? Many Worlds was too techno-synth-pop for me, if that makes any sense. And i much prefer her upper register to her baritone, which she seems to use more in this album, although the fact that she has such an astonishing range never fails to floor me. When I first heard her music, I thought her soprano and baritone were two different people! (

I gotta chime in with the contingent who like "Proof" a lot because it, as has been so delicately stated here, kicks ass. It grabs the listener. I think that even those that don't like it would probably have to admit that when they first heard Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, it is one song that demanded to be noticed...and remembered.
     I've played Many Worlds Are Born Tonight for a few people who are not familiar with Happy's music. As their tastes are more mundane—er—mainstream than, say, an ecto subscriber's, I watch them as they listen. They seem initially impressed and interested, but their typical mainstream short attention span kicks in, and they'll begin to chat more than listen, or find something to read, or lapse into a coma, or something. "Proof" invariably pulls their attention back to the music.
     I think there's a lesson here relevant to the recent musings on stardom, popularity, making music for a living, etc. "Proof" should have been (and still could be) the single from Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. It can draw people to the music.
     Learning the depth of that artist's oeuvre is, of course, left as an exercise to the listener (and hopefully, buyer). And for future reference—although Happy is certainly not one to rehash tried formulas in her work—the style, the feel, the punch, the grab of a song like "Proof" is worth revisiting. Not a whole album's worth, of course, but there is commercial appeal in the dance mix beat that "Proof", more than any other Happy Rhodes piece, offers. This is the kind of tune that a lot of people could like a lot.
     I've mentioned before here how I think the David Bowie influence is real strong in "Proof". At the Troy show, Happy mentioned Bowie in her (brief) intro to this song. I think she said "This song is inspired by David Bowie" but I'm not sure I heard "is inspired by" or something else.
     One of the reasons I like "Proof" a lot, besides its infectious chorus, is the apparent influence of Laurie Anderson in the verses, the way the groove sort of deteriorates and Happy sort of talks more than sings. Even the little "OK..." before the 1st verse reminds me of something by Laurie that I can't place right now... from Strange Angels, I think.
     We know David Bowie is a Happy influence. I find the bridge "I was young I was free..." sounds like Happy briefly out-Bowie-ing Bowie. Classic Bowie at that.... (

I think a lot of people on the list felt Many Worlds Are Born Tonight was too techno-synth-pop when they first heard it, although a fair number of others "got it" right away. I'm one of the ones it took a long time to grow on; it seemed so...polished and somehow I couldn't connect with it emotionally the way I could with earlier albums. What finally did it for me was seeing Happy perform the songs live at her shows last year; it finally hit me: "Oh, of course, this *is* Happy Rhodes music!" (

Kind of the same here; at first I was unimpressed, but after I few listens I am beginning to see the beauty within the beast. And there's more to see. (

If you haven't gotten Happy's latest, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, then in my opinion you haven't heard her best work yet.
     I recently ordered the UK Gold Circle release of Happy's Many Worlds Are Born Tonight (for the sole purpose of acquiring the bonus track "How it Should Be").
     First of all, the packaging is slightly different. Of course there is the Gold Circle logo on the back of the packaging and on the CD itself, and the absence of the Samson logo and information. The clear CD tray has been replaced by a solid black one. And the holes in the front and rear covers of the CD sleeve have been replaced by solid covers with reproductions of what shows through the holes in the US release. I don't know if my copy is an anomaly—but the cover image is slightly off-center (you see more of Happy's right arm than her left, and the CD title is closer to the edge on the right), but this isn't an obvious flaw.
     I was half expecting "How it Should Be" to be incorporated as a hidden track onto the album without mention of it on the packaging, but I was wrong; the title appears on the rear cover with all the others, and in the liner notes, the production and other such credits are moved to the back page so that the lyrics to "How it Should Be" can appear immediately after "Serenading Genius." On a slightly nit-picky note, the lyrics to "How it Should Be" are transcribed without the use of alternating fonts to reflect different parts of the song—an idea used effectively on the other tracks.
     As for the song itself, it's quite good. It's catchy and rhythmic and probably the most "pop" track on the album—even more so than "Roy." Musically (and arrangement-wise) it's not far removed from the techno pop of Madonna's Ray of Light, and Happy gives a fine vocal performance even if the melodic polish of the song doesn't allow for a showcase of much of her range. I'm not sure, however, if I'll ever truly feel it's an Many Worlds Are Born Tonight track. Not only am I used to Many Worlds Are Born Tonight being comprised of only 11 songs, but I also feel Many Worlds Are Born Tonight was quite complete and stellar as it was. And on top of that, while musically "How it Should Be" fits the same electronic, layered soundscape as the rest of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, lyrically it's something different. To my ears, it's born from the same "I'll do my own thing" mindset that spawned such songs as "Play the Game" and "I Say" in the past.... Not that that's a bad thing at all, but the rest of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight (with *maybe* the exception of "Proof") lyrically create whole new worlds whereas "How it Should Be" seems to skim over the top.
     Not to mention the fact that continuity-wise, it comes at the wrong point in the album. As used to the original version of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight as I am, I can't suggest a better spot for the song, but "Serenading Genius" is more fit as an album closer.
     But take these criticisms very lightly, because like I said, "How it Should Be" is quite good, and a must-have for every true Happy fan. I'll probably end up regarding it like I do "Look for the Child" or "Be Careful What You Say"—good on their own merits, but somehow removed from the other songs on the same album.
     The world needs to accept the power of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight or suffer the consequences. The more I listen to it (one year and counting), the more convinced I am that it will become and remain my all-time favorite album. Unless, of course, Happy somehow manages to top herself in the future.
     I still can't find a thing to criticize it. My least-favorite track of the bunch ("Winter") is still among my favorite Happy songs. And, unlike fellow Ectophiles, I absolutely adore "Roy," would probably rank it as my #1 favorite Many Worlds Are Born Tonight track, and have since watched Bladerunner for the first time as a result. Has anybody pointed out before that Rutger Hauer actually says the lines, "Fiery the angels fell" and "Tell me father, can you repair what you make" directly in the movie? I had to smile...(Patrick)

I haven't actually gotten past the diamond-hard sheen of this album's layers and production, but I immediately respected it, and I anticipate that it will continue growing on me for a long time. (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)

Although not as entranced by Happy's new one as I have been by previous releases, there are some wonderful songs on this album, and her lyrics remain honest and thought provoking. Not enough of a showcase for her vocals in my opinion but still a very good album. (

Took a while to sink in but now it's embedded. (

A wonderful, brilliant cd—it amazes me how soon these songs all seem so familiar to me, even after just a couple of hearings I couldn't get most of the songs out of my head again, and yet there still is so much to discover).
     This is by far the best album of 1998. I was a bit anxious beforehand, since I'm not all that interested in electronic music, and I was a bit concerned that this cd might be too gimmicky and freaky for me. But when I first heard the full album I just sat down in awe, and I felt all warm and glowing after hearing "Serenading Genius" for the first time. Some songs took some time to grow on me, like "Winter" and "If wishes were horses...", but some songs were instant favourites. Especially "The Chariot", which gave me goosebumps all over the first time I heard it (the moment just before the guitar comes in), and which is still my favourite song of the album. I find it amazing that despite all the electronics and strange noises and sounds all over the album, the music and Happy's voice still feel so warm and full of emotion. This album still makes me glow all over.(Marion)

It's *incredible*—I love it when she biases things towards the electronic :). (

Stunning record, finally bringing her sound into the '90s! But what would I give for another acoustic record like The Keep....
     OK, so it took me a while but finally I got my copy of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. These are only first impressions because I just finished playing it for the first time but I think I can already let out a deep sigh of relief—I love it! Now for an explanation/confession: just like most people here I admire Happy's voice and songwriting, but I often feel let down by the production and instrumentation. Sometimes I feel like I have to dig for the gems I *know* are there, buried under all these incredibly cheesy keyboards, these awful drum machines... Thank God, my prayers have been answered—on Many Worlds Are Born Tonight this casiotone vibe is almost totally absent and I can finally get down to the business of enjoying the music without being reminded of New Order, Devo and other "highlights" of the '80s that I'd rather forget (with apologies to any fans of New Order and Devo).
     In light of what I said you might understand why my one problem on this album is "Roy".... So, this is the single? To me it seems a cut below everything else here... But apart from this one track, my first impression is that this rates as Happy's best non-acoustic effort ever! (

This is my favourite Happy album after (Warpaint). I loved it immediately, and have only grown to like it more as I've gotten to know the songs and the richness of the production better. This is some of Happy's best songwriting, and wonderful, mature work. (Neile)

It didn't take me as long to get into this album as others have reported it took them. What decided me was when I finally had the chance to sit down and listen to it through headphones. Yowza. Happy is coming into her own as an artist, and while I don't think her path and that of widespread commercial success are headed toward a convergence, artistically she's continuing to become more and more important. This is a great album.
     The capsule review: This is brilliance in action. Every time I listen, I hear something new. I have no doubt that I'll be able to say that for a very, very long time. There aren't too many albums I can say that about: The Dreaming, for one. Not bad company to be in, I'd say!<
     The first time I *really* listened to Many Worlds Are Born Tonight was on a tape of a tape. I'd heard it several times before that, but hadn't really *listened* to it before then. Even though I couldn't hear half of it as it turns out, it finally clicked with me on that run-through. Then we got the CD, and I listened to it on the big stereo for the first time. Talk about a mind-bending experience! This past weekend, woj and I drove up to Boston with the CD cranked up to a dangerously high level on my car stereo, feeling the bass in our bones and watching the jiggling of the rear view mirror as it reacted to the soundwaves passing through it. After that I decided I absolutely love this album, and it could well find its way onto my short list of all-time faves before it's done.
     Where to begin? The layer upon layer upon layer of sonic soundscape, which unfolds more and more with each consecutive listen; the unbelievable range of sounds Happy produces with her increasingly amazing voice; the overall mood of the album, which holds together as a piece and gives me a vivid picture in my mind's eye of several science fiction classics at once (for example the voyage across the Sea of Grass in Dan Simmons' Hyperion, and the tortured protagonist of Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination); the disappointment I feel as the final notes of "Serenading Genius" fade away at the end...
     There are so many moments on this disc that are *just* right. The bass on "Tragic" (though I find myself wondering what would happen if Steve Bernal, Ingrid Karklins' bass player were to get hold of the same riff—windows would probably crack all the way down the street); the "Experiment IV"-like violin on "Roy"; the little yodels in "Serenading Genius" ... I could go on and on. Not to mention that entire essays could be written on the backing vocals disguised as instrumentation scattered throughout the album, too.
     Kibbles &bits:
     —I can't decide if "Looking Over Cliffs" or "Serenading Genius" is the best track on the disc. Right now I'm leaning toward "Looking Over Cliffs", if only because it contains perhaps Happy's most gut-wrenching vocal in the middle (got milk?). I absolutely cannot wait to witness her singing the lines "Anywhere you go, here or beyond/Nothing will stop me from finding out what dream you're on" live. Humans just shouldn't be able to *do* that.
     —Way back in time at the Tin Angel, the first time Happy performed "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight" (which was then, and will always be known—to me, anyway—as "Jork") Kevin mentioned that Happy was working on recording the album version of the song with every instrumental part being a different kind of vocal. The first few times I heard the song on the disc I felt a bit disappointed that she didn't end up doing that, but now that I've had a chance to listen a bit closer I'm wondering if she didn't do it after all. There are some sounds on the song that are unmistakably electronic in origin, but give a good listen to the clapping percussive bits running underneath the entire thing...processed claps and clicking noises or no? And the electronic roar at the end sounds like a processed belch to me...I wonder how far afield I am with that one. ;)
     —Another question about "Jork": was the line "many worlds are born tonight" in the version Happy was performing way back when? I honestly can't remember.
     —Anyone else think that "Tragic" could have been on Rearmament?
     —Speaking of "Tragic", pay close attention to the very last sound on the track—if there was ever any doubt that Happy's a Mac user, this should take care of it. ;>
     —Mitch Elrod already showed it to us on "Wrong Century", but on "Proof" he makes it even clearer: he's one of the weirdest backing vocalists around.
     —I like "Roy". I didn't at first, but it's really grown on me. You can't deny that it has a hook that could land a whale. I think "Proof" would make a better single, though.
     Is Many Worlds Are Born Tonight Happy's best album? Too soon to tell. Is it my favorite Happy album? Not sure. Rhodes I and Warpaint will always have a special place in my heart because they were my first, but Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is wrapping itself around my brain and refusing to let go. Is it, as many here have said, her best since (Warpaint)? I think so. Unlike many here I adore Building the Colossus, and I also really like Equipoise, but Many Worlds Are Born Tonight delivers more consistent "wow" reactions than both of those put together.
     Kudos to Happy for creating a true work of genius. (Extra points scored for the funky panning at the beginning of "Ra Is A Busy God", too. ;) I honestly don't see this being the breakout success we could hope it to be; the mainstream public isn't ready for something this layered and complex. However, those who do find it are going to be in for a real treat. (

I got Many Worlds Are Born Tonight a week ago and have to admit I have mixed feelings towards it. While what I have always preferred, and what caught me at first, in Happy was her voice, this time I am always trying to ignore it to concentrate on the music. I think this says more about me than it does about the album but it is still weird. This can be due to my writing my whole thesis with the instrumental version of "Ra Is A Busy God" as background music. I couldn't imagine how she could add lyrics to this perfect piece of music and I was, of course, disappointed by the result. (

For the first time Happy has written songs which sounded like complete little worlds by themselves, and yet this is her most cohesive album yet—beautiful, haunting and intricate. Certainly the excellent arrangements and production don't hurt either.
     Firstly, well done Samson, its a beautiful cd package. As for the music, well, what can I say... It's an absolutely brilliant album. So brilliant in fact that it has pushed Happy over the edge into my all-time-favourites canon. She was teetering on the edge before with Rearmament with (Warpaint), but it took this to do it for me. Superlatives really fail me, but I'll try anyway: The thinking person's Ray of Light? Enya and Imogen Heap staging a battle in the studio? The Sensual World, if every track had been as interesting as the best ones? Oh well, I give up. Happy is Happy is Happy is Happy. Thank you Happy.
     Okay, here's a song review (by now you're probably sick of these but...):
     "100 Years"—Sort of reminds me of the way "I'm Going Back" starts, but I was never too fond of "I'm Going Back". This, however, is an absolutely brilliant song. Three fantastic things: The weird bits, the operatic parts and the mantra-like vocals.
     "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight"—Sort of laid back and groovy—no, soulful is the word. A nice uplifting song (and Happy is so good at those). Two fantastic things: the weird but funky production and the "aieyaieyaie"'s in the background.
     "The Chariot"—Oooh, beautiful, ethereal, weepy ballad time! Lie back and soak up the atmosphere. Who would have thought it was about religion! Three fantastic things: the slow verses and the high, lilting choruses, the keyboard washes, and that little synth line which reminds me of mid-eighties Genesis for some unknown reason.
     "Ra Is A Busy God"—WOW! Brilliant. Really. I haven't got the ambient collection, but I can see this standing up completely as an instrumental. So many different parts to fall in love with. Four fantastic things: Those windchime-y/xylophone thingies, the myriad different vocals (ethereal, the weird "I''ll have my best dress" part and the children voices), that cool percussion line, and the lyrics! One of my four faves.
     "If Wishes Were Horses, How Beggars Will Ride"—Could come off Rhodes I if Rhodes I had such brilliant production. Sort of like a cross between "He's Alive" and "Summer" in my opinion. So heartbreakingly sad. Two fantastic things: the weird sounds, the vocals.
     "Roy (Back From Offworld)"—Yes, it's comparatively poppy, but it's also amazing! The percussion and chorus are catchy in the best "Be Careful What You Say"/"Look For The Child"/"Feed The Fire" kind of way, and the verses and bridge are thoroughly weird. Also has an excellent climax. Three fantastic things: the poppy chorus, the weird bridge, and those sudden super-low vocals halfway through.
     "Tragic"—This is pretty exceptional. Just gets stronger and stronger and stronger. Brilliant lyrics too! Another one of my four favourites. Four fantastic things: The powerful chorus, the pounding drums, the choir, the lyrics.
     "Proof"—A funky track, with another powerful percussion line. Actually this sort of strikes me as a more pleasant "Wrong Century", and the way it suddenly goes quiet halfway through is great. Two fantastic things: the mantra-like lyrics and the grinding percussion.
     "Looking Over Cliffs"—Starts off quite modestly, and then has this absolutely mindblowing chorus with both ragged AND operatic vocals, and then its just perfect the rest of the way. Another one of my four favourites. One overwhelmingly fantastic thing: The Chorus!
     "Winter"—A beautiful ethereal piece, which seems to keep morphing into something else once I've gotten a hold of it. What can I say except that it's beautiful? Two fantastic things: Its dreaminess, those low murmuring vocals.
     "Serenading Genius"—Oh, oh. Another CLASSIC Happy moment in the tradition of "When The Rain Came Down" and "In Hiding". In fact it seems to strike me as somewhere in between both of those, except more confident than either. The lyrics seem to be a sequel to "Feed The FIre", except that Happy is looking forward instead of back. Another one of my four favourites. Four fantastic things: its placement at the end of the album, which just leaves you feeling warm inside, the "yoyoyo" part, the crashing chorus and the song itself. (

I was surprised by the direction Happy took with this. Opening with the lush, electronic sound of "100 Years," Rhodes fully embraces her technological roots that have always been present in her music. Part of Happy's brilliance is the amazing way she can put such a warm and human face on the sterile heart of technology. While I am partial to her acoustic side, this album certainly ranks up there with the best in my opinion. With "Serenading Genius," Happy has added a song that ranks above my all-time favorites. Anyone who can successfully toss words like banality and criteria around in a gorgeous, melodic epic like this deserves high praise! Then there's the monolithic "Proof," which chugs along like an inexorable colossus, devouring all in its path. Happy's music strikes such a visual chord in me as well.
     I'll tell you why "Proof" is one of my favorite songs on the new album. Yes it kicks ass, and I like that about it, but I love that low, shuffling keyboard bass line. The whole song has this big, lumbering sound that I love. A big, chunky, bulky sound like...oh, let me think, "Abort" by Tribe. I know there are others songs like this, because I love them, I just can't think of them right now.
     My fave on Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is still "Serenading Genius" though. Just transports me! (

This one took me a very long time to get used to. At first I was rather disappointed and found it boring. But meanwhile I like it a lot. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

I love this album. It took a while but the effort paid off. I don't think this is Happy's "commercial" breakthrough, (Warpaint could have been) though maybe an artistic breakthrough. Still there should be more of "us", NOW!—I don't understand it. The songwriting is as strong as ever. Best song (now)—"Ra is a Busy God" ( Also not my favorite of all her CDs, but it's great to hear from Happy again; this CD will get a lot of re-play when I need music to support but not distract me. (Greg Dunn)

Be sure to run out to the store and buy Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. If you think (Warpaint) is trance-inducing, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight will make you catatonic! (

HAPPY, I love you. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is your master-work. It is *so* rich and relatively complex; I really do consider this album to be just as good as it could be: the song sequence is superb, and the songs, oh man. (

Okay, think my all time favorite Happy song—which is hardly that—"Oh the Drears", has been supplanted by "Tragic". Oh how I love this song. I'm not too hip on "Roy", but I can see how it might work as a single, it has that infectious lyric thing. The album on a whole is excellent, there are a couple gems, and I like the whole electronica feel, much tighter and more controlled than previous albums. May become one of my favi Happy albums. (

I've got to say that it's her best since (Warpaint). I'm just gah-gah over "100 Years," "Tragic" and "Ra Is A Busy God". It's absolutely magical—brilliantly layered and full of passion. (

Many Worlds Are Born Tonight's slowly growing on me, with "Tragic" being the (immediate) standout. I'm still hung up on "(Warpaint)" as her ultimate, but Many Worlds Are Born Tonight's probably my favorite since. (

Many Worlds Are Born Tonight didn't grab me on the first listen, and I have to admit there were things I actually disliked about it, but now it's growing on me like a weed! Happy's music from the first time I listened to it had that effect on me—it just creeps up on you, and before you know it, it invades your psyche and deposits itself there for good. It's sort of insidious in that way, but it's a welcome invasion! :) (

This is soooooo wonderful!
     Does anyone else think it sounds a little more *commercial* than some of her previous albums? Not that there's anything wrong with that.
     After reading all your reviews about the latest album from Happy, I decided to sit down with it and take notes as I listened.
     Tim wrote that "The Chariot" reminded him of mid-eighties Genesis, and I agree. This song really reminded me of Peter Gabriel...something he would do.
     "Roy"—I nearly thought I was listening to the soundtrack from the movie "Toys." I like this one a lot.
     "Tragic"—My second favorite song on the album. Sooooooo intensely emotional. I love the drama and how it grows to a wonderful crescendo. (Sorry to be redundant.)
     "Proof"—Kind of repetitive, but it's my third favorite song on the album.
     "Serenading Genius"—This beautiful song is my very, very favorite on Many Worlds Are Born Tonight.
     I can't even write more about the album, because I felt kind of bad looking at my notes afterwards. I had really enjoyed Many Worlds Are Born Tonight when I first heard it on tape...and then when I got the CD, I still loved it. But when I sat down and *dissected* the album, it just seemed to take away from the music. I don't think I'll do that again. (

It grabbed me from the very first listen. It grabbed me from previewing in headphones at Borders. It was astounding to hear the complexity of sounds in headphones! Now, granted, my tastes run all over the gamut, and I'm getting more and more into the genres called electronica/trance/dance/trip-hop/ambient, etc.
     Am I the only one here who loves this direction Happy has gone in? Didn't folks see it coming, as she's been tinkering with programming, sequencing, sampling on past releases? Now she's matured, she's mastered so much technique that she is, in my opinion, coming into her own as a full-fledged electronica artist. And she can always do well as a more acoustic/folky-veined artist, I believe. But electronica is hot right now. Happy ventured into that genre in a grand style...and did it herself and on her own terms. She invented & engineered. I really admire & respect her for her accomplishment!
     Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is what one might call a "concept album"...with a SciFi bent. I was immediately reminded of the Star Wars bar scene where many weird & wild creatures drink strange other worldly cocktails &a futuristic jazz band performs. I imagined immediately Happy in that bar, sitting in a dark corner with a notebook, watching and observing the comings and goings, and becoming a "scribe" of the many worlds on her personal radar screen in some bar in a future world. That's the concept *I* see in Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, at any rate.
     I don't want to be a detractor in any way, but I don't like "Roy" much either. I don't like the vocal parts, that is, I guess, the chorus, much less the repetition of same, and the only thing that saves the song for me is the violin stuff, which is gorgeous. Frankly I think it was a mistake to make "Roy" the single...who is the intended audience for this song? You can't dance to it...too many tempo changes that leave folks standing, awkward, on the dance floor. And if you're going to try to break into the electronica genre (is that Happy's intent, or Samson's marketing plan?)...well, you need a dance hit. My pick for that would be "Proof"...danceable, killer bass line (I *want* to hear this song blasting out of folks' car speakers, damn it!) I'm even going to go so far as to say that lyrically, if you marketed this single the right way, you can get this song into the mainstream right now, with so much interest these days in court proceedings, which began with the Simpson trial & goes thru the current Monicagate mess. Now, I know folks here will say "yuck, don't associate Happy with that stuff"...but the association could move product! "Show the proof and hide the evidence" indeed! Heck, speaking of Clinton, remember when he adopted "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow" for a campaign song? Well, songs that capture a moment in history, if promoted in a timely way, can pique interest in the performer and her/his entire album. And after all, the music business *is* a business, and if an artist doesn't sell "X" amount of units, they may not get that contract renewed (or bettered.)
     But...I simply don't like "Roy" much. It's my least fave on the album. My fave is "Ra", which I also believe would make a great single...and a great opening number for Happy's live show (hint, hint). I think great singles would be "Ra", "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight" (the title track) and "Proof". All are much more danceable than "Roy".
     "Winter" is my close second fave. It struck me as a song that would be perfect for an Olympic figure skater to perform to, because of the high drama of the song, the tempo changes, and of course, the song reminded me ice (and therefore ice-skating.)
     I was rather disappointed in the "solo" toward the end of "Serenading Genius"...there is a nice build, high drama with those drum parts, but the rather wimpy guitar solo (or is that a guitar-sounding keyboard?) lacks "genius". I would have preferred something more dramatic, something more "ingenious"...maybe some Spanish guitar elements, some really nice finger work, and especially considering this is the closing song on the album.
     Luckily, the song that keeps going through my mind is "Ra", which is my fave.
     The album is absolutely a masterpiece. Happy's muse made utterly manifest. In fact, it's my opinion she can stop "serenading genius" and take a well deserved break. Because when it comes to genius, by jove, she's *got* it!
     For anyone who hasn't done so yet, listen to Many Worlds Are Born Tonight in a good pair of headphones. Peel back all those layers &you find even more surprises!
This cd blows my mind...and in turn it has blown the minds of friends and e-pals of mine whom I've introduced to Happy via this cd. Many of these people are more into electronica than folk/acoustic...and since I knew what they liked already, I knew which friends to focus on when I wanted to share my excitement about Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. (

I've listened to Many Worlds Are Born Tonight a few times now and have to admit that, while it IS technically very tight and rich, I'm missing some of the emotional impact of, say, (Warpaint) (and some of the grit, too).
     She's not on notice or anything, but I find myself already curious to know what she'll do next. (

What can I say? This became my favourite Happy album after two listens. From what I can tell, Happy is a master when it comes to producing complex soundscapes made from intricate rhythmic forms. This has been true of her previous work, but with this album she seems to have pulled out all the stops. At the same time this work seems very polished and mature.
     There is a curiously retro feeling to the album. It is as if she now has the musical resources to revisit ideas she first explored long ago, perhaps now being able to express them in the way she originally intended.
     "Winter" strikes me in a similar way that Enya's "Aldebaran" does. Sometimes, if I'm in the right mood, then there is a certain point in "Aldebaran" when I feel I ought to tie my leg to something very solid, otherwise I'll just float off. The middle portion of "Winter" does that to me, too.
     An interesting game one can play with Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is "spot the influence". The most obvious track for this is "Serenading Genius" (ELO anyone?), but I can hear things sometimes that early post-Genesis Peter Gabriel might have used. At the same time, it is clear that Happy is "tipping the hat" at her heros, while also allowing her own creativity to reign supreme.
     I heartily recommend listening to this album with headphones. My first real listen was via headphones. (

I must say it is quite a wonderful work! As usual with most albums I buy, I wasn't overwhelmed the first time I played it, but with each consecutive listen, it has grown on me like ivy. The multi-layers of sound are quite towering! I'm a bit baffled by the lyrics though. In particular, the phrase "We will defend you no further" is repeated in two songs, "Tragic" (my favorite track) and "Proof". Who was defending whom? Does anyone know the story behind these lyrics? I get the feeling that all of the songs on this album fit a certain mood (melancholy science fiction) but did Happy have a larger story in mind which she based all these lyrics on? Or do we just let it flow like Tori's lyrics and not take them literally? Any thoughts? (

It definitely builds off the Aural Gratification ambient albums, but making them more like traditional songs. The music is very dense and thick, and much darker than Building the Colossus (yay). My first impression, in the car, was quite favorable, though I felt that a lot of the electronic sounds already sounded a little bit old, and perhaps too heavily applied. Perhaps later I'll appreciate the complexity. Oh, and the title track was quite familiar when it went by. Jeff and I decided it must be what she'd been calling "Jork" at the live shows for a while. It's hard for me to imagine this is going to be the album that breaks happy though. It sounds less accessible than Building the Colossus (which is also a good thing in my book). Nice packaging too. (neal)

I like it! No surprise there, I expected to.
     Lots of associations here. The Orb meets Dar Williams meets Laurie Anderson meets Tangerine Dream...
     But strangely enough, the very first thing I thought of was Christine Baczewska. I hadn't though about her much recently, and I'd *never* thought of her in conjunction with ecto, but there it is. I just pulled out the Christine Baczewska album "Tribe of One", and put it on immediately after playing four tracks of Happy (with a mic set in between, of course, to let people know what they'd just heard :)—and yup, I think my reaction was on target.
     Christine Baczewska is filed in our 20th Century section, whereas Happy is very definitely going to land in New Age. So they are somewhat different styles, and both unique. But there's a kinship between the two sounds that was instantly clear to me. So perhaps other people here will like her. Worth a try. (

Many worlds haven't yet been born in Germany, but I managed to have one sent to me. First impression: nice packaging ;) although reading small black letters on gold isn't very friendly to the eye (but this can be said about the basic CD booklet format). As to the's such a complex album, that it's impossible to judge from only a few spins, although a "less can be more" jumps to mind and tongue... er... fingers. The similarities to some previous songs are quite obvious. So, I do need some more listens, some with headphones, before I can make up my mind. (

Probably a sacrilege to not include Many Worlds Are Born Tonight on my list of the best of the year, but this one just didn't do a lot for me. In my opinion, it just felt a little too over-executed. Those that felt the same way about it will know where I'm coming from. And those that don't I've probably just pissed off... :) (

wow i am totally blown away by Many Worlds Are Born Tonight! i even love "roy"! (

her music was worth waiting for. I absolutely adore many worlds.... (

I like the CD a lot but its not my favorite of hers. As a breakthrough CD I think Equipoise or even Building The Colossus would have been more commercially assessable. (

i *love* the direction she's taken here. not that it's radically different from what comes before, but i think the darker sound contrasts well with the more poppy feel of Building the Colossus. i haven't had the chance to listen as much as i'd like yet, so my impressions still aren't fully formulated, but there's something to the feel of this album that speaks to me of vintage happy while still being refreshingly new and different.
     no individual song comments, yet, but... does anyone else think of marvin the paranoid android while they listen to "100 years"? :) (damon)

It doesn't surprise me that a newbie to Happy's music would find a yawning gap between "I Will" and Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. It wouldn't surprise me that someone drawn to the similarity between Happy and Kate would run out and buy Happy CDs. It's what I have called The Shock of Recognition (in contrast with the Shock of the New so much in vogue in "high art"). I recall singing along to Happy's music when I first heard it, as if I knew the songs. I didn't, but somehow they were innately present in my mind as if some part of a collective heart, as she so aptly articulated the phenomenon years later. This shock of recognition did continue for me right through Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, but that's due to my exposure to studio recording and electronics. I also benefited from the many years of experience listening to Happy's music, so naturally I recognized her stylizations inside the wall of timbral manipulations. It is a masterpiece, but alas, it isn't the commercial breakthrough that may have been an understanding in her new contract with Samson. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is, in fact, far more challenging that most of her albums. Rather than a first listen, it would best be played later in one's listening experience. (

I hate to see anyone judge Happy by Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. I respect it but don't particularly like it. (excuse me ectophiles if this is blasphemy, it hurts to say, but is true.) I do however love every single one of Happy's other albums. The Keep was my intro to Happy Rhodes and I loved it the moment I heard it. It is sort of the Happy Rhodes unplugged album, and lacks the overpowering electronic gimickry which, I think, was the thing I most disliked about Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. the songs on The Keep are also just all around better in my opinion. Please try The Keep before making any final judgments about Happy. My two cents worth. ( I have grown to appreciate and enjoy Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, and I certainly respect the talent and vision that went into it. Truth be told, though, if it hadn't been Happy's album, I probably would not have taken the time to let grow. While there are certainly those artists who venture into electronica, loops, sequences, and the like, that I do really enjoy listening to, it is not what first drew me to Happy. What I wouldn't give to hear her with an acoustic guitar again. (

I just received the Dutch pressing of "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight" which I ordered from JPC. The packaging is slightly different, without the holes in the booklet, no transparent tray, and there's one track more than on the US version. The track is called "How It Should Be". Most of you probably know this song from the '96 Tin Angel shows. On the CD it's a studio recording, rather catchy, and in my opinion the song with the most "hit" potential, even more than "Roy". I wonder why they left it off the US version of the CD.
     I'd like to add that I wish the song wasn't placed at the end of the album, "Serenading Genius" works much better as a closing track. (

It may be my favorite Happy Rhodes yet. I really like when an artist gives full reign to his/her quirkiness with little or no thought to chartability. (And yes, I agree with some of you that "Roy" is about the least compelling song on this album.) This seems like a very mature album: the variation in texture and tone tastes like experimentation, not indecision. I'm sure I'll listen to it again tonight. (

Happy Rhodes' recordings:

The main Happy Rhodes page

Thanks to Philip Sainty for work on this entry.

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