The Gorey End was a direct result of Edward Gorey's enjoyment of The Tiger Lillies' Shockheaded Peter which was itself very similar to Gorey's own Gashlycrumb Tinies. This was a book which portrays the sad end of many a young child (in a most macabre Gorey way). Thus, back in 1999, Gorey sent his latest work to The Tiger Lillies in hopes of doing a theatrical collaboration by putting Gorey's words to The Tiger Lillies music in a stage production. Sadly, in the midst of the beginnings of this collaboration, Edward Gorey passed away at the age of 75. This is even more sad because Terry Gilliam had shown an interest in directing the theatrical production, which was nipped in the bud because of Gorey's passing. However, after the fact, The Tiger Lillies decided to put Gorey's words to music, and with the help of the ever exciting Kronos Quartet, The Gorey End was born. In 2003, not only was a cd produced (being reviewed here), but also a revue in London's Lyric Hammersmith was performed which included the music from The Gorey End with readings from Gorey's books. It's sad that Gorey never saw the completion of this fascinating musical adventure, but gladly we can hear what has become of it.
Having never heard Shockheaded Peter, I can't really compare the two works (although its description does sound familiar). I can describe The Gorey End and while it certainly is an acquired taste, I think anyone who enjoys Edward Gorey, or things of a macabre nature will enjoy what The Tiger Lillies and the Kronos Quartet have come up with here. It reminds me of musics by the likes of Tom Waits or the local cabaret punk group Dresden Dolls. It's a little more playful than those two acts, thanks to the combination of accordion, counter-tenor vocal and string quartet. It's not as rocking as Dresden Dolls, and has more elaborate arrangements, but would most certainly not sound out of place in your collection if you like the modern take on the old school sounds of cabaret that Gorey's imagery can evoke.
My favorite songs were Besotted Mother, Gin, and Learned Pig - these songs were a middleground between the over the top and the more subtle tunes on this album; and the more playfully dreadful QRV was another favorite. Also, the extended piece Trampled Lilly is also quite wonderful and beautiful, while the cd closer Hipdeep Family evokes the glam cab style of the likes of David Bowie.