SIGMATROPIC Sixteen Haiku And Other Stories (Thirsty Ear/Outside) Rating: NNNN
On the surface, Sixteen Haiku And Other Stories is a concept way too weird to work in a pop context. A bunch of indie darlings sing English translations of the short poems of Nobel laureate George Seferis, backed by amorphous Greek indie electronic outfit Sigmatropic. Uh, yeah. Shockingly, not only does the ambitious project succeed, but it's beautiful. Sigmatropic founder Akis Boyatzis plays matchmaker, providing idiosyncratic singers like Laetitia Sadier, Mark Eitzel and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo with the perfect lyrical wisps. Who else but Chan Marshall could pull off "I am raising now / A dead butterfly / With no makeup"? The arrangements are evocative and intricate, and the power of these tiny perfect poems is staggering.