REVIEW: Scarlet Life - "Sugar, Spice, Saccharin & Cyanide"

By Dan Century

Chain Border

Sugar, Spice, Saccharin & CyanideWhen an amazing band like My Scarlet Life breaks up the subsequent parts are rarely as satisfying as the original whole. Scarlet Life (minus the My), a new group formulated by My Scarlet Life keyboardist Preston Klik, is an exception to the rule. While fans of My Scarlet Life will find Klik's cinematic melodies, trippy sound-scapes and quirky trip-hop beats familiar, that's where the similarities end. Singer Chandra Clark's seductive, sexy female vocals will provoke comparisons to previous Klik band mates, but Chandra has a sound all her own.

Those of you unfamiliar with Preston Klik's previous band are in for a real treat, as you'll be able to enjoy this album without prejudice. Rather than the tried-too-many-times guitarist/electric bassist/live drummer band formula, Scarlet Life dares to takes some chances - SL features a singer, a live DJ, an acoustic bassist and of course producer/keyboardist Klik. The resulting sound is rich with variety, providing the listener with a truly unique experience. Scarlet Life is a grand experiment that truly paid off. Whether serving up a deep slice of trip-hop, smoky, smart and sexy Jazz, a take-me-back-in-time 80s power ballad, or groovy cyber-funk, Scarlet Life never disappoints.

Sugar, Spice, Saccharin & Cyanide is a record that fits just about every mood (with the exception of "totally insane"): whether you're winding down after a vicious party, getting over a major breakup-up, celebrating a personal victory, trying to relax while trapped in traffic or setting the mood for a mature encounter - Scarlet Life is the perfect soundtrack. It has a coolness no one can deny.

If I had to compare Chandra to anyone I would say a Ray of Light era Madonna, but I'll also say that Chandra's voice has so much more depth, richness, sensuality, warmth and bite, that she leaves the "queen of pop" nine strokes behind. Chandra's lyrics are as impressive as her vocal talents. Rather than using obtuse metaphors or pop simplicity Chandra sings about real emotion and social situation: lust and desire, the need to be loved, pain and regret and the sheer boredom of it all. I can especially relate to the lyrics of Bored:

My pretty friends & their pretty parties
I stand around pretend that I'm having a good time
I'm not having a good time lately

And I really appreciate the frank, erotically charged lyrics of Take Me:

If you wanna take me tonight
I'll show you how to get there
If you listen to me
You wanna take me inside
I'll help you find your way there
If you listen to me

DJ Skeptik's skills are worthy of a DMC DJ championship. Skeptik uses his talent tastefully, as an instrument rather than a way to show off, unlike many of his peers - rather than a cheesy gimmick Skeptik is a true band member. Listen to Skeptik's rhythmic scratching on Vamona and or "demonic laughter" on Burn and you'll hear what I mean.

Bassist Zebulun's sound is jazzy, gritty and groovy - he takes full advantage of the classic sound of a standup bass. Zebulun's bass lines slither appropriately on the demonic Burn, bust a maniacal groove on Favorite Girl and effect a country-funk on Dawn. Who knew an acoustic bass could be so versatile?

Preston Klik's sound is as unique as any producer/keyboardist - sound-scapes worthy of a film score, swirls/bubbles/sparks/riffs normally reserved for techno and house and production that matches the top players in the business. Although it's clear that he is the mastermind behind Scarlet Life, he's not afraid to take a backseat to the other band members and let them do their thing.

As the title so eloquently betrays, Sugar, Spice, Saccharin & Cyanide is an album of rich, daring contrasts. Scarlet Life serves up an orgy of sensations, a rainbow of moods and a feast of aural flavors that you're likely to enjoy.

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Post: DivaNation Records, 5602 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL, 60660

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