Despite first recoding in 1997, 'Travels With A Donkey' is the brand new first full length of Milky. Milky is Shazna Nessa and her ex-husband Momus. Many of you know their famous track The Emperor of Oranges. It is the only track from the past included on this record, though another song from the past makes its first appearance here (Jackie Onasis).
Shazna specializes in a Claudine Longet styled whisper, though she sounds decidedly more playful and carefree then Claudine. Shazna has also recorded for Siesta as Maria Napoleon. She has a distinctive voice that you may recognize when you hear this disc.
I like this CD a lot. There are 10 songs on the disc, and none of them seem to be filler or instrumentals. Each song feels crafted but not overworked, and most songs have lyrics that tell a story or describe something in a new way.
- Travels With A Donkey is a lighthearted song with whistling and the title rendered in MacSpeak. The tune is very singsong and the feeling is bright.
- Up On The Moon sounds like a story with sound effects. A river running, a wooden flute, and various sounds accompany Shazna's tale and Momus' acoustic guitar.
- Dima the Kirgilyakh Mammoth has an oompah-pah beat and whispered vocals like you are being told a secret magical story. The oompah sound becomes like a circus music, complete with a klaxon of some game won. A brief reading by someone who sounds like Vincent Price is among the many odd angles this track spurs off into.
- The Chess Players has a jazzy guitar riff and some open notes on a piano. The track has a loose feel as it describes a tense match observed with a poetic eye. The song ends with a jam on the theme augmented by a synth, after Shazna has proclaimed "Checkmate - it's too late."
- Maisic sounds a bit spooky, with Shazna's whispered/spoken story and Momus' dissonant music, with the touch of an operatic vocal grazing the background of the song.
- Lovely Tree is another sad/odd song with a decidedly downer feel to it. Shazna's voice sounds charged, almost like Nico.
- The Invisible Man keeps the mood downtrodden, but has more brightness than the two previous tracks. The theremin use brings the reference to the Claude Rains movie right to the front. Shazna double tracks her vocals, both singing and speaking on the song.
- Jackie Onasis is my favorite song on the CD. It is not a cover of the song by Human Sexual Response, but is a complex melodic track that I keep wanting to hear again and again.
- The Mouth Organ uses the type of double tracked vocals that Flaming Lips used so well. Momus echoes Shazna's words in a baritone voice. Unfortunately, it reminds me too much of Flaming Lips, and I don't care for it. The track has some psychedelic distorted guitar. Aside from the vocal, this track reminds me a bit of Black Box Recorder, with the slow beat and Shazna's voice.
- The Emperor of Oranges is Milky's signature song. It was recorded years ago, and wisely was not re-recorded for this album. Despite having heard this track many times, I still love this song and marvel at the craft which created it.
'Travels With A Donkey' is a strong record - my favorite Siesta album in some time, though I have to admit to not having heard recent Siesta discs. Siesta must have lost their old US distributor, as the few times I have seen new Siesta releases in the stores they have always been quite expensive.