Getting into Catman Cohen is one hell of a journey. WIth each footstep trudging into a smudge of WTFness along the way. Sometimes small hints of weirdness are hiding in the walls and sometimes it's right in front of your face screaming at you.
The music of Catman Cohen is not made of the crazy and whacked out ingredients one expects when they think of strange music - but something else. That's what puts it beyond the bizarre.
It's in his character and personality. Learning more about this "shadow musician" and putting the pieces of the puzzle together is similar to that of watching an oddball cult film.
Because of the enigma of Catman Cohen I'm going to make an exception here for this review. I can't possibly just give a description for one album. Instead I would like to briefly discuss his life, beliefs, and his music.
Even before hearing his music I noticed his fixation on the mystery game. A tool numerous artists have used throughout history for various reasons. Reveal very little about who you are, what you look like, how you create your art, your beliefs, etc. Besides his beliefs Catman keeps everything else about himself behind a white cloth. His reason for this seems to come from his beliefs, which march alongside his music, his distain for the cult of celebrity and that the artist must step away from the foreground.
But the danger of artists draping themselves in mystery could cause the audience to not take the artist seriously. This seemed to have happened already with Catman, even though he seems very aware of it. On a website about him it goes on to say:
"Critics have suggested that he has "something to hide," possibly a sordid past of some kind, hence the absence of photos and bio details. Various theories have included the possibility he is everything from a hideously deformed freak; a burn victim embarrassed by his wounds; a throat cancer patient; or simply an elderly, silver-haired baby boomer far too aged to be a new artist in a very youthful music industry. The more outlandish speculations have included the possibility he is a once famous musician who faked his death and now records under the Catman name; an underage 15 year old computer whiz kid who utilizes a digital synthesizer to effect the bizarre Catman bullfrog voice; and a member of a witness protection program."
Obviously he is playing off this. That is part of the game from the artists' side.
He claims that we live in a world that is dumbing down and looking up to the wrong kinds of people. Instead of celebrities who promote the obsession of sex we should look up to the "neglected heroes" such as nurses, paramedics, teachers, firemen, universal peace-keepers, etc..
For sure, I can dig that. I feel as if we're on the same page here. And most of the people I know would nod their heads in agreement.
This guy's music is full of well thought-out messages.
You see, all this may not seem that out there or WTF but it's the way that it's presented, along with the music.
I have to say that I absolutely LOVE his voice. It has to be one of the deepest I have heard. Like a giant toad with laryngitis singing in the center of a spacious hollow planet.
The extra musicians sound like LA studio musicians stuck in some late 80s sound warp hole. Even the song-writing compliments this.
But the song-writing is the magic here. It is wonderfully creative and uniquely innocent. A true songsmith!
Take this light wonder of a song for example:
So go out and do some exploring of your own about this fascinating musician. Learn about the controversy between him and wikipedia, his consideration towards those without adequate food or health care, his performances with "she-males, Goths, and other atypical entertainers", his association with celebrities, his encounter with suicidal teenagers, and a lot more. But whatever you do, don't skip over his music.
To date he has released three albums. A trilogy:
*How I Want to Die: the Catman Chronicles 1 April, 2005
*How I Want to Live: the Catman Chronicles 2 October, 2005
*How I Want to Dream: the Catman Chronicles 3 April, 2009
All of which can be listened to here:
Catman Cohen is also a member of wtfmusic.org - don't hesitate drop him a comment about his work.
I admit that some of the guest singers I don't care for but step back and examine Catman's world as a whole and it's a genuine artistic statement steeped in mystery, humor, creativity, values and most importantly, for us, WTF!
Many will quickly brush Catman's music off after only a few taps of the finger without reaping the rewards of fully diving in and moving the whole body. In the meantime, I'll be dancing with Mr. Daddy.
Further discussion on this release and artist can be found HERE.
DOWNLOAD - no download for these albums but you can listen to them all from here: