Libertarian. Enjoys politics, technology, music, food and drink.
Reading the abridged history of her life on trusty Wikipedia, it reads like the synopsis of a Russian novel; born into a humble, intellectual, Catholic family, Imelda Marcos shot through aristocratic ranks. In her young life she was ‘Miss Philippines’, a recognisable beauty, and a singer with a remarkable voice. Indeed it was her cousin Daniel Romualdez y Zialcita who first saw the potential in this Imelda politically and sent her off to campaign by singing; something that none of our British female political assets have yet to do. Her humble father saw this as prostitution of his daughter and flew to her immediately to stop it. She moved in with her cousin Daniel, the then speaker, and entered political circles. Daniel, like the rest of her family held strong Catholic beliefs, and when Imelda began a relationship with Ariston Naktil, was disturbed by his previous marriage, refusing his cousin to become a concubine.
In 1953, she met her future husband, and President of the Philipines, Ferdinand E. Marcos, and married soon after. Like her assistance to her cousin, she became a valuable asset to her husband during his political career, and made an effort to visit every politician in the country. Her time as First Lady was swamped with the excesses of bourgeois taste that the Russian novel would find its comfort in; she reportedly had over 3000 pairs of shoes, though this is paled slightly by her $5million shopping trips she would take, and to say nothing of her property purchases — the $51-million Crown Building and the $60-million Herald Centre, though she found the possibility of the $750million Empire State Building too ‘ostentatious’. Her husband and her’s political careers were fraught with corruption, yet remarkably to this day Imelda still holds herself together with a drive that exists through her even in her 80th year of living.
David Bryne found a story here that’s rather remarkable, and so has set about the mass-collaboration, co-headed by Fatboy Slim. Of his intent with the project, Bryne says,
The story I am interested in is about asking what drives a powerful person–what makes them tick? How do they make and then remake themselves?
An interesting project indeed, and the project itself has many parallels to Imelda’s life. Firstly the list of breathtaking female vocalists that take part on the project is as expansive as it is eclectic and impressive, and is a perfect homage to Imelda Marcos’ own singing talents. The list includes Florence Welch, Candie Payne, Tori Amos, Martha Wainwright, Cyndi Lauper, Roisin Murphy, Alice Russell, Sia, and Santogold to name but a few. Yet this project is not a simple concept album; Byrne who is responsible for writing this musical, is packaging a two-hundred page book about Marcos, a DVD of music videos, along with the double-CD package.
Mass collaboration albums seem to be in vogue these past few years; Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse’s 2009 record Dark Night of the Soul, saw indie hipsters excited everywhere (especially with the added scandal of EMI refusing to release it, and a blank-CDR being provided for those who bought the book), and the year before, Fatboy Slim entered his new guise The Brighton Port Authority into the public sphere, with I Think We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat. Indeed album highlight there saw David Bryne join Norman Cook together, and this well-crafted partnership continues now.
Here Lies Love, while certainly electronic in place, lets the female vocalists transcend any chance of this being a ‘club’ record. Indeed in moments like ‘Eleven Days’, the beats seem to liven up, but elsewhere latin, jazz, and soul really take dominance. Cyndi Lauper and Tori Amos’ closer Why Don’t You Love Me? is one of the highlights, and their vocal overlaps make you question why anyone wouldn’t ever love them. Relative newcomer of the female vocalists, Florence Welch really shines and her story-setting track Here Lies Love lays the foundation for the beauty of the album to come. It seems hard to draw individual songs from this twenty-two track tale though, as this is certainly a concept album that best works when played in order from start to finish; for could we pick up a Russian society novel at the peak of bourgeois success, only to return to the humble love “in the night she’d wake up screaming/so your children slept with me.”
Fatboy Slim is a remarkable asset to this project, and like with The BPA, this is some of the best work Norman Cook’s done in years, and certainly more relevant than the now-forgotten Palookaville. This album works on so many levels, and the partnership of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim certainly sits at the top of that. This isn’t an album like others; listen to it when you’ve got time to sit and just listen; get a cup of tea, have a cigarette, and hear the story of Here Lies Love.