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Marianne Nowottny


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Just plain strange (ok, maybe experimental). (12/00, neal)

Status:

Most recent release, Divine Cantos (2010)

See also:

Marianne Nowottny's sitee

Marianne Nowottny's MySpace page

Comparisons:

Her voice has an unmistakable PJ Harvey sound, with sometimes a hint of the weirdest Kate Bush stylings. The music and way of singing is decidedly different. I'm not sure what those sound like. (12/00, neal)

She sounds like Marlene Dietrich to me. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

I'm one of the Ecto people who really like her...I've had her disc for like 2 weeks now and it's just incredible. She's still quite 16 in her lyrical approach, but she's got some major talent and she's going to absolutely blow everybody out of the water once she learns about control...because at the moment, she has absolutely NONE but that's what makes the music and the lyrics so interesting, she's flying all over the place, those keyboard pieces are just extremely strange and wonderful...I did a good bit of research on the 'net about her and found she and her 15-year-old friend named um Donna or Dierdre or something like that released tapes of experimental improvised pieces under the name of Shell...according to the story, they dropped acid and hit the "record" button and just played for an hour and then stopped once the tape ran out. Woo. One thing that's pretty interesting to me is how her vowels are like Sylvia Plath's...notice: this has NOTHING to do with her writing style, it's all ENTIRELY to do with the way they hold their mouths or whatever...but it's a coincidence, I'm sure, just as Marianne's voice bearing a strange uncanny resemblance to PJ Harvey's is just a coincidence...but anyhow, Marianne's "ooh"s at the end of words, like, "you" and "do" and "through" etc are VERY reminiscent of Sylvia Plath's voice when she was reading her poetry, it's that whole level of poise...and there IS a certain level of sophistication to her stuff beyond her 16-years-old-ness, those songs are so amorphous and strange that I think she has that same internal-logic to her music that Tori Amos has...anyhow. So I'm excited to hear her 3rd or 4th album...by then she'll be shattering small planets with her music, I'm sure of it.
     I find her music to be extraordinary. this is the most remarkable thing about her music: it comes purely from her, free of almost any kind of outside influence...it proves that originality is still possible even in this time of media oversaturation and artistic homogenization, and for that reason, Marianne gives me extreme hope as to the future of her music (she's only 18 now and composing on a far greater level of raw talent than nearly any other musician—imagine her at 40, or even 30!) and indeed of all music and art itself. (12/00, John.Drummond)

She's a 16 year old girl who sounds like PJ Harvey if Polly Jean was more into poetry recitals to free-form jazz stuff. Occasionally too self-absorbed stuff, but powerful anyway. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Recommended first album:

afraid of me is her first full-length release

Recordings:

  • afraid of me (1999)
  • jesus-in-a-jiffy (1999, single)
  • manmade girl (2001)
  • Fountain of Youth (ep, 2002)
  • Illusions of the Sun (2003)
  • Nineteen Minutes (live ep, 2004)
  • Skymother Mountain (ep, 2005)
  • Strange Weather From the Basement (2005)
  • What Is She Doing? (2008)
  • Kung Fu Kitty soundtrack (2009)
  • Marianne Nowottny & The All American Band (ep, 2008)
  • Divine Cantos (2010)

afraid of me

Release info:

1999—Abaton Book Co. (100 Gifford Avenue Jersey City, New Jersey 07304 U.S.A.)—Abaton 001

Availability:

See Abaton Book Co.'s website for availability

Ecto priority:

Moderate, though recommended for the lovers of the edgy and offbeat. (12/00, neal)

Group members:

Marianne Nowottny—vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion

Guest artists:

Mark Dagley—analog tape loop on 1 track, second keyboard on 1 track, Hawaiian guitar on 1 track, tape montage on 1 track, fuzz keyboards on 1 track

Produced by:

Lauri Bortz

Comments:

Marianne's album is one of my very favorite records now...I've realized after listening to the album for 9 months that her lyrics really are much more mature and detailed than I first thought...
     I figured her to be a very talented 16 years old, but 16 years old nonetheless, and while the fact of her age is technically inescapable, she's beyond just being 16 and somewhat talented. She taught herself almost everything she knows about music, and it's astonishing to see how unfettered she is in terms of melody and song structure. She's entirely willing to indulge every possibility of a melody, however foreign it may sound to the listener...her work demands to be accepted on its own terms, and those are definitely strange terms: her keyboard work at times reminds me of the best Nintendo game soundtrack I never heard, and for lots of folks I've played her record for, the novelty of the chaotic fuzz organ is a difficult one to get past; however, I think that getting past the initial other-ness of it is essential to recognize the real budding genius of it. Her voice, too, presents quite a challenge for the unadventurous, her glissando moan evoking a much saucier and much hungrier Marlene Dietrich... she eschews standard "melody" in most cases in favor of genuine expression... (12/00, John.Drummond)

The strangest and most off-putting aspect of Marianne's music is the way she sings. The song lyrics often read like sing-songy verse, with lots of rhyming, but the vocals seem to specifically play against this, twisting the phrasing, dragging out or swallowing syllables, so that the rhymes are obscured. In fact, I find that the harder I listen to the album, the more disorienting and out-of-whack it all seems. When it fades into the background, it doesn't seem nearly so odd.
     The music seems pretty vivid all by itself. The instrumentals, consisting largely of keyboards, loops and fuzziness, are really evocative and exotic. Some of the songs paint vivid images of foreign scenes, while others seem to be full of nonsensical, incomprehensible lyrics seemingly chosen for their freewheeling associative properties. (I guess that's a compliment or an insult, you choose.) Take these examples: "Opaque amber, feckless glamour" or "I'm still your communist cookie nazi, Are you still too busy playing Yahtzee" (12/00, neal)

A 16-year old New Jersey girl—sort of PJ Harvey with an organ. I think her song-writing is interesting, but I get really sick of her overdone, shrill organ by the second song. All the songs are fairly noisy, and lack melody. Not my cup of tea, but I know that some people on the list would probably really like her. (jjhanson@att.net)


jesus-in-a-jiffy (single)

Release info:

1999—Abaton Book Co. (100 Gifford Avenue Jersey City, New Jersey 07304 U.S.A.)

Ecto priority:

Moderate

Comments

it's a holiday themed 7"—a side "jesus-in-a-jiffy;" b-side "sequin serenade". it was apparently recorded all on august 21st, 1999.
     the a-side is a surprisingly straight reading of a nativity story, over a cyclic sort of musical background composed mostly of bells and assorted percussion. even thought the bells are frequently discordant, they have a cheerful quality: it sounds like a children's record with moderately peculiar instrumentation the only not-kindergarten-suitable ironic touch, is the tossed-off remark "that's jesus-in-a-jiffy for you," at the end. nowottny's speaking voice seems quite a bit higher than her singing voice.
     the b-side starts and ends with a few notes of "auld lang syne," in between it's much more in keeping with the performance i saw: nowottny sings in a marlene dietrich-like register, her tone is complex, her delivery theatrical. the song is built mostly of discordant, dense clusters of piano notes, taking twisty turns; hanging organ tones and high-pitched, string-like sounds add additional layers. it keeps threatening to develop a recognizable melody, but never quite does. (12/00, dmw@mwmw.com)

manmade girl

Release info:

2001—Abaton Book Co. (100 Gifford Avenue Jersey City, New Jersey 07304 U.S.A.)—abaton 006

Availability:

See Abaton Book Co. website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Marianne Nowottny—vocals, electronic keyboard, electronic effects, piano, harmonium, electronic percussion, drums, percussion, wooden flute, electric slide guitar, "noise" guitar, bass guitar, New York Street recording, sound effects, power tools

Guest artists:

Mark Dagley—percusson on 2 tracks, Spanish guitar on 1 track
Bronwen & Aidan DeSena—background vocals on 1 track

Produced by:

lori bortz

Comments:

Very strange. (woj@smoe.org)

Further info:

Marianne Nowottny did the original score for Abaton Book Company's audio drama, Provocative Dramas by Arch Oboler (2011)


Thanks to Neal Copperman for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2012-05-04 21:16:59.
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