Beautiful People Ltd ‎– Beautiful People Ltd

Sub Rosa ‎– SR61, Sub Rosa ‎– SR 61
CD, Album

Tracklist Hide Credits

1 Warm Liquid Event 3:09
2 Dance Demented
Written-By – Lary Seven
3 Bébé Marie (For Joseph Cornell) 3:18
4 A Coruscation 2:33
5 I Feel Pretty (Live At The Cannibal Club Milwaukee)
Written By – Sandheim / BernsteinWritten-By – Bernstein*, Sandheim*
6 L.S.B. 5:16
7 'No' 4:09
8 Liquid Bébé Psychedelia 4:14
9 My Bruise / Sitar Passage
Written By – Jarboe / SevenWritten-By – Jarboe, Seven*
10 The Witch 3:20
11 I Know You Don't Like Me 1:27
12 Newborn Child 3:04
13 Show 0:32

Companies, etc.



Released in a 6-panel Digipak with a tray on the middle panel; no booklet, the lyrics are printed on the inner left and right panels.

All tracks recorded August 1992 in the Plastikville Studios, East Village - NYC, except track 5 recorded live at the Cannibal Club, Milwaukee.

"I Feel Pretty" was originally part of the piece "West Side Story".

DIGIPAK® Manuf. by J. Upton, England 021 692 1171, as licenced by AGI USA

The catalog number 'SR61' is printed on the spine and left outer Digipak panel, the catalog number 'SR 61' is printed on the disc label.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Mirrored): SR-61 14 A1 MASTERED BY DADC AUSTRIA
  • SPARS Code: A-D-D

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August 13, 2013

This extended ritual of intertwining themes and morphing atmospheres was created in collaboration with Lary Seven, a sonic sculptor of note. Enchanting and addictive, Beautiful People Ltd is also singular, not generally reminiscent of Jarboe’s solo work or with Swans, World of Skin, The Body Lovers or others.
The cohesion of an album of such stylistic diversity is remarkable. These haunting soundscapes shift seamlessly between breezy pop, techno, electro, tribal funk, industrial collages, folk, spoken poems, lullabies, nursery rhymes, experimental and ambient pieces. Exactly how the instrumental sounds were produced is unclear but it is Jarboe’s magical vocal modulations that unify the sound.
An elaborate thematic tapestry is formed by the musical and psychic movement. The theme of childhood snakes through Bebe Marie, Coruscation, Liquid Bebe Psychedelia, My Bruise, I Know You Don't Like Me, Newborn Child, Show and I Feel Pretty. These reflect distinct styles and/or contradictory emotions although lost innocence characterizes the murkier ones.
‘It’s ok to be afraid,’ Jarboe soothes Bebe Marie over exquisite percussive patterns, glockenspiel and reverberating chimes. The vocals alternate between spoken word and delicate phonation in the upper registers. One gets the impression of walking down a dark tunnel as it is collapsing behind you.
Emerging into the light, a scene of children playing a ritualistic circle game confronts you. The mood swings from compassion to mockery as her lilting contralto intones a hypnotic folk /gospel chant to harpsichords and handclaps. Sinister and compelling, A Coruscation warns of cult mind control in a manner that imitates the vocal inflections and rhythmic cadences employed by the manipulators. “Give up your religion, come along with me now, your mysticism” and it sounds simultaneously rousing, eerie and confusing.
The tale of Bebe Marie resumes in Liquid Bebe Psychedelia, mournful now despite the enchanting mid-tempo pop arrangement with its fuller harmonious instrumentation, undulating rhythm and choral vocals. This track is characteristic of the entire album; upfront many sound like appealing pop tunes but a sense of unease hovers in the background.
The squawking of crows surrounds the listener in the album’s abyss, My Bruise, a memento mori with harp or sitar interlude. Then the deathly voice again, chilling in its resignation amidst the chorus of dark consorts.
Still in the childhood milieu, I Know You Don't Like Me is a tuneful, minimalist, semi a cappella nursery rhyme. This brief moment of innocence which speaks of unreciprocated love must also be a send-up of the music hall genre. Finally, the dreamy Newborn Child evokes the image of Nico as soprano humming a lullaby to her harmonium.
In lighter vein, a phone conversation between a stalker and a teenage girl introduces Bernstein/Sondheim’s I Feel Pretty. The flamboyant, exuberant vocal delivery with its operatic tonal gymnastics, skittering percussion, bleeps, raucous guitars and mock jazzy feel raise a smile so the concluding burst of maniacal laughter is infectious.
Amongst the tribal types the semi-instrumental Danse Dementia’s complex percussive patterns combine with distant wordless vocals for a spacious feel, whilst No has hardcore industrial percussion with muffled, perhaps vocoderized sighs, whispers and no’s. Atmospheric ambient introduces L.S.B. where an intriguing call-and-response pattern develops between the torch song vocals and the instruments.
Innovative and exquisitely arranged percussion adorns the album throughout but particularly so on The Witch. This ballad’s sitar, xylophone, chimes, pitches and tones are embellished by shimmering vocals, vocalising and whispers, bringing to mind the demented ghost of Cathy in Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.
The tracks added for the enhanced 2004 release include the melodious techno pop Volcanic Ash Mix which resembles a track on the Swans album Soundtracks For The Blind.
No Mix approaches earlier Swans terrain in its stomping metallic beat and machine like vocal modality. Whereas Warm Liquid Event is a sensuous mid tempo pop ballad, the tumultuous Warm Liquid Pleasure Mix merges reverb, echo, laughter, edgy percussion and mesmerising chanting in a maelstrom of seismic power. Only about 5/6ths of the way does it start to resemble the opening track.
In the vocals, Suicide Song Mix has something of I Feel Pretty and I Know You Don’t Like Me but this is disrupted by the chaotic arrangement which cleverly incorporates gurgling, bursts of laughter, croaking, guttural vocalizing and spoken vocals. Somehow this blends well with the noisy backing in a dance of dissonance.
The thunder of galloping hooves opens Badge of Courage Mix, soon joined by propulsive percussion, resonant flutes, bells, whistling and a perfectly timed repeating reed flute or chime sound. A charming, stunning arrangement which appropriately ends in applause.
The brooding Unraveling Thread Mix is equally impressive. Vocals encompass Jarboe’s spoken poem plus a variety of ominous unclear voices and eerie echoes. Some are slowed down, some in foreign languages, and they fade in and out of the atmospheric rumblings, tinklings, whirrs, drones and other metallic/industrial emanations. Beautiful People Ltd ends on a melodic high with an unlisted mystery track.
It takes a while to gain full access to all dimensions of this work of many moods and multiple mysteries. Not that it’s ever a difficult listen but the various layers only reveal themselves over time.