Jasmine Dreame Wagner named her band after Dutch pharmacist Albert Seba’s collection of exotic animal horns, yet-uncategorized plants and other oddities of the natural world. The Missoula/Brooklyn band’s new album, Searchlight Needles, captures that weird beauty through haunting electronica, resounding minor chords and Wagner’s shadowy vocals.
It doesn’t just evoke natural oddities, either. It captures an Alice-in-Wonderland wilderness, too—that sort of rustic goth-like world featuring ghostly relics from an attic full of voodoo dolls and strange tinctures. The album begins with “Little Ice Age,” a processional march of minor chord guitar picking, tambourine and eerie flutes that sound like distorted wind chimes. In a hushed voice, Wagner sings, “Haley holds the hallowed hand that hail you, Haley holds the hallowed hands that bind...” setting the album’s riddle-like tone. It’s an album of spooky and beautifully lulling tracks, brimming with quirky details. And though it doesn’t resemble Appalachian folk, it indulges in the same kind of loneliness, full of curious textures worth exploring again and again. (Erika Fredrickson)
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities play a CD-release show (as well as a book release and thesis reading for Wagner) Thursday, May 1, at 7:30 PM in the Stensrud Building. Free.