The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

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The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
Ghosthorse.jpg
Studio album by CocoRosie
Released April 10, 2007
Genre
Length 48:44
Label Touch and Go Records
Producer
CocoRosie chronology
Noah's Ark
(2005)Noah's Ark2005
The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
(2007)
Grey Oceans
(2010)Grey Oceans2010

The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn is the third full-length studio album by CocoRosie, released on April 10, 2007. The album received mixed reviews from critics.

Recording[edit]

CocoRosie made their preliminary recordings for The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn in a barn in the South of France that they turned into a makeshift studio. The creaking echoes and sounds of the old, wooden barn lend an otherworldly feel to the album. Running on a nocturnal schedule, the duo found inspiration their surroundings: the distant sounds of animals, the hum of nightlife around sounds of the night on an old-fashioned Dictaphone. In an interview with Electronic Musician in 2007, Bianca commented, “I feel like it added the atmosphere of a lot of songs, a lot of things you couldn't do in a proper studio. It was important for the creative process to start out in this space.”[1]

Beatboxing was provided by the Casadys’ friends Spleen and Tez and is featured on multiple tracks, including “Promise” and “Rainbowarriors”. Additional recording and polishing was done with the help of Valgeir Sigursson, the Icelandic producer famous for his collaborations with the artist Björk.[1]

Composition[edit]

Music and lyrics[edit]

CocoRosie’s innocent, childlike aesthetic turns their often dark subject matter of abandonment and abuse into haunting lullabies and unsettling operatic hip-hop melodies.

Songs[edit]

In the song “Werewolf” the sisters tell the story of their father, singing, “He’s a black magic wielder some say a witch”, but show their determination to move on despite the pain, repeating, “I’m a shake you off though/ Get up on the horse and/ Ride into the sunset/ Look back with no remorse”. The sister’s reinforce their will to move forward in the song “Rainbowarriors”, declaring, “We are rainbowarriors/ Evil come not near”.

The tracks “Sunshine” and “Bloody Twins” seem to speak to the sister’s memories of childhood, painting pictures of failed relations with peers along with brief glimpses of human connection. Many songs on The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn hint at past tragedies. The song “Raphael” shows the dark side of teenage sexuality with the story of a “teenage player” who knows all the right moves, but can only further damage an already shattered soul. The song ends with the pained repetition of the phrase “Don’t speak I can hear you”. Near the end of the album, the song “Miracle” pokes fun at what the sisters believe to be the unrealistic idea of a boy and a girl staying together forever.

While most of the album’s songs recall a shared girlhood and revel in a renewed sense of self, the song “Japan” makes a broader commentary on the world with lines like “Everyone wants to go to Iraq/ But once they go, they don’t come back”. Another track that stands out from the rest is “Girl And The Geese”, a spoken word track that tells the story of a girl who found she could talk to geese because “they were once human like her”. At first glance, the story may not appear to have a point, but in fact, it is a vivid depiction of how the Casady sisters see the world around them as magical and extremely personal.

The sisters have made themselves endearingly vulnerable in this album by showing us not only the fantastical, exclusive universe they have created, but also the deep-seated insecurities that helped to build it. In the song “Animals”, Sierra reveals the pain that accompanies her love of nature, singing, “I always knew I would spend a lot of time alone/ No one would understand me/ Maybe I should go and live amongst the animals”. CocoRosie bring us music like we’ve never heard. It’s abrasive, unsettling, mysterious, and innocent all at the same time. It is as imperfect as it is honest. The Casady sister’s ask only one thing: that you “Promise me that you’ll cherish/ This tarnished/ Oh this tarnished offering”.

Artwork[edit]

The cover art for album was done by Pierre et Gilles, a French art duo. Much like CocoRosie, homo-eroticism, religion, glamour, and myth are recurring themes in the work of Pierre et Gilles. The photograph for The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn depicts Bianca and Sierra in Victorian dress with Bianca kneeling at her own side, dressed as a soldier.

Bianca is no stranger to dressing in drag. She regularly performs wearing a fake mustache and appears dressed as a man in several music videos, including the video for the track “Rainbowarriors”. In an interview with After Ellen in 2008, Bianca expressed surprise and pleasure at never being criticized for her portrayal of gender, saying, "I find it interesting that as a 'female' artist in this time, I can go in complete drag on a regular basis and no one really notices, where as an artist like Antony [of Antony and the Johnsons] was torn apart about [her] transexuality in all of the first major articles written about [her]."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 60/100[3]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
Drowned in Sound 9/10 stars[5]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[6]
Pitchfork (2.3/10)[7]
PopMatters 6/10 stars[8]
Q 2/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[10]
Stylus Magazine C+[11]
Uncut 4/5 stars[9]
Under the Radar 6/10 stars[9]

The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 60, based on 23 reviews.[3] Marc Hogan of Pitchfork described the majority of the album as “lazy, meandering nothings”.[12] Tiny Mix Tapes rated the album a 3 out of 5, praising the risks CocoRosie took on the album. while critiquing the attempts at hip hop.[13] AllMusic praised the production of the album, specifically the production of the tracks "Animals" and "Raphael".[14] Drowned in Sound heavily praised the record, calling it the duo's best so far, as well as "their most fully realised, well-produced and melody rich record yet".[15] The Guardian felt that “[CocoRosie seemed] to have no interest in developing [the album's] fragments of ideas into a coherent artistic whole.”[16]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Rainbowarriors" 3:55
2. "Promise" 3:37
3. "Bloody Twins" 1:37
4. "Japan" 5:02
5. "Sunshine" 2:58
6. "Black Poppies" 2:37
7. "Werewolf" 4:50
8. "Animals" 6:02
9. "Houses" 2:56
10. "Raphael" 2:48
11. "Girl and the Geese" 0:46
12. "Miracle" 3:35

Charts[edit]

Chart (2007) Peak
position
French Albums Chart[17] 21
Swiss Music Charts[18] 84
Dutch Music Charts[19] 49
Belgian Music Charts (Flanders)[20] 24
Belgian Music Charts (Wallonia)[21] 57
Norwegian Music Charts[22] 39
Top Heatseekers[23] 37
European Top 100 Albums[23] 81

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "CocoRosie on recording The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn". emusician.com. June 1, 2007. Archived from the original on October 11, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2016. 
  2. ^ Trish Bendix (January 8, 2008). "Bianca Casady Does It Herself". afterellen.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Reviews for The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn by CocoRosie". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn - CocoRosie". AllMusic. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Album Review: CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound". Drowned in Sound. April 12, 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  6. ^ Macpherson, Alex (April 5, 2007). "CD: CocoRosie, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  7. ^ Hogan, Marc (April 19, 2007). "CocoRosie: The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Coco Rosie: The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn". Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c "The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn by CocoRosie". Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  10. ^ "Album Reviews". Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  11. ^ Stylus Magazine review Archived 2007-04-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Hogan, Marc (April 19, 2007). "CocoRosie: The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  13. ^ Purdum, Grant. "CocoRosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  14. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn - CocoRosie". AllMusic. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Album Review: CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound". Drowned in Sound. April 12, 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  16. ^ Macpherson, Alex (April 5, 2007). "CD: CocoRosie, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved September 28, 2017. 
  17. ^ Steffen Hung. "CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn". lescharts.com. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  18. ^ Steffen Hung. "CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  19. ^ Steffen Hung. "CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  20. ^ "CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  21. ^ "CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  22. ^ Steffen Hung. "CocoRosie - The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  23. ^ a b "CocoRosie Saddles Up For New 'Adventures'". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2011-11-02.