Carmen Jaci ~ Happy Child

Would you like a half-hour fun break?  Ask this of children, and they will always say yes.  Ask this of adults, and they will want to say yes, but more often sigh and return to whatever they were doing: papers, emails, stocks and other dull tasks.  Carmen Jaci is inviting us to take a half-hour fun break.

One can see Jaci’s world on the cover: a world of bright colors, geometries, portals and beads.  Every object and opening is an invitation to use one’s imagination.  The artist’s press photo is even more inviting: she is wearing what looks like a giant letter or pink rainbow and yes, this is an actual clothing item (we asked!).  She might not be able to hold a drink at the party, but that’s what friends are for.

The album begins with a quick bubble bath.  Have you ever taken a bubble bath while blowing bubbles from a plastic cup, or done the Coke and Mentos experiment there?  Jaci begins with a delighted yelp, followed by big chords, toy drums and animated bubbles.  There will be plenty of bubbles throughout the recording, along with other wet sounds, wrung from video games or a toybox.  There will be sighs, smiles and many mallet instruments.  Every once in a while, a guest instrument will drop by like a guest on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  The songs resist most linear equations, because like Cyndi Lauper, they just want to have fun.  Sometimes they dance from micro-melody to micro-melody like a child switching from one song to another as she changes characters in her Fisher-Price play.  Other times they will retain their focus, as in “I See,” replete with clucks, plucks, and the line, “let’s see,” which pretty much sums up the curiosity of a child.

“Jeux d’eau” delves into harps and cymbals, then breaks down into lapping waves, followed by fat synth.  “oh ah eh ih ah oh” comes with a delightful background story about strawberry bubble gum and a friendly monster under the bed.  Other pieces invite the listener to invent and illustrate their own stories.  Looped and sampled onomatopoeias imitate newborn utterances, inviting listeners to experiment with the tongue and teeth.  The fun half-hour is over before we know it; we’ve played, yelped, run around, scrawled with crayons and chalk and gotten gum in our hair.  Now it’s time to return to whatever we were doing, reinvigorated, rejuvenated, revived.  (Richard Allen)

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