If the title of Voltaire’s latest CD, Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice filled with the Laughter of Small Children does not warn you in advance, this CD is definitely not for the young ones. Voltaire is a unique artist whose music is intended for adults with a twisted sense of humor and a taste for the macabre. But within that genre, there is no one better than Voltaire.
Riding a Black Unicorn begins with a melodramatic, over the top flourish with the title song, which is a heroic ballad that also introduces the lush music that provides the accompaniment for Voltaire’s rich, full voice throughout this recording.
This music is provided by alternative musicians as noted as David J from Bauhaus, Brian Viglione of the Dresdon Dolls, The Red Hook Ramblers, and in particular, the haunting cello of Melora Creager of Rasputina.
The music continues with another fairly straight, haunting ballad, “Innocent,” and then my personal favorite song on the CD, “The Mechanical Girl,” a steampunk morality tale which explains exactly why you should “never take a child from a loving parent, especially ones who make children who shoot rockets from their eyes.”
Then there’s also “The Dirtiest Song That Ain’t,” which is a sing-along that invites the audience to provide the words Voltaire can’t say in the (completely fruitless) effort to get on the radio. One cannot imagine the world in which this song would make it on any commercial channel, but for the perverse among us, it’s great fun. Just remember, once again, this CD is for adults (And yet, there’s not a single dirty word in the song).
From there, it’s all an amazing journey into the dark side, with bright, bouncy cabaret music and murder, perversion, and characters who walk just the other side of sanity. “Straight Razor Cabaret,” “Don’t Go By the River,” “Cathouse Tragedy,” and “Oh Lord (Wake the Dead)” all fit this mode.
“When the Circus Came to Town” closes out the set with a slower paced, more traditional sounding ballad, but the lyrics are as goth as any black-clad fan could wish.
The art on the CD cover and the disc are by famed fantasy artist Daarken, best known for World of Warcraft, Warhammer, and Magic the Gathering. They perfectly fit the mood, and are a nice bonus for the listener.
I’ve seen Voltaire many times at DragonCon, Atlanta’s huge science fiction convention, where he is loved by thousands of fans. He performs to tens of thousands all over North America. Although I love him myself, I think maybe we should all be a little disturbed by this.
If you are a fan of movies like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, if you are looking forward to the Zombie Apocalypse, and if you enjoy the television show Oddities, you will probably love this CD, as I do.
If you are at all conservative in your tastes or easily shocked by musical lyrics, then Voltaire, (real name: Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez) is not for you and you should keep your distance from this CD.
For the rest of us, this is perfect music for Halloween, 365 days a year.