Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandoras Pinata
Sensory Records
11 songs (53'01")
Release year: 2012
Official Myspace, Sensory Records
Reviewed by Alex

Just checking my opinion about Diablo Swing Orchestra 2009 effort Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious against the review/forum comments on our site I know I am in the minority about this Swedish collective. I can’t help it, however, to think that not enjoying DSO is strictly your loss, people. I sincerely doubt there is another troupe out there who can handle their instruments so professionally, yet take themselves so not seriously. The end result, for what now is two albums in a row for me, is some genuinely entertaining and mood-uplifting experience. I have heard opinions that Diablo Swing Orchestra is jumping out of their skin to be wacky. If anything, I feel that the quirkiness in their music is downright natural, and, actually, Pandora’s Piñata has less of it than its predecessor.

While still encompassing a wide variety of genres, DSO sticks to quite a bit of discipline within a given song on this album, without scrambling all over the place in the span of a few minutes. There are still tone setting, moniker fitting (read, swing), single-ready cuts like the opener Voodoo Mon Amour or Caribbean carefree rhythm driven Guerilla Laments, big band jazzy Honey Trap Aftermath or symphonic pompous Of Kali Ma Calibre, but within these songs there is focus on a style. The addition of the full-time wind section (in the form of a trumpet and a trombone) is a clear winner. Cello/violin duet on Voodoo Mon Amour is great, but the wind instruments playing off each other in Guerilla Laments and Honey Trap Aftermath are absolutely killer. The closing instrumental section of Honey Trap Aftermath has been played already to every open-minded friend I have, and borders on the genius of something classic, like Let My People Go. The rhythm section of DSO is also superb, delivering heavy, knee-snapping jazz on Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball or mad bass lines on Honey Trap Aftermath.

The vocal duet of Daniel Hakansson and Annlouice Loeglund is also on top of their game. Buttressed by multiple backing vocals, either vocalist in DSO can take a listener on a variety of trips projecting a number of different moods. Kevlar Sweethearts may be Celtic and soothing at the beginning, but something both sinister and sultry is hiding in Annlouice’s voice, bringing to mind a Tarantino movie. She does remember that she is a trained opera singer/diva, from time to time, and lets it all hang out in Aurora, which reminds me of Nessun Dorma of all things, and in Of Kali Ma Calibre, which operatics are far more grotesque than Therion or Sigh. Daniel Hakansson has never been a picture-perfect voice, but he does spill his guts in the weird romance of Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball, and truly applies himself in the careful acoustic ballad Justice for Saint Mary, until it grows into a broken jarring techno.

The album does have a little bit of a nadir in the middle, with the robotic craziness and processed vocals of Black Box Messiah and industrial nature of Mass Rapture, hinting/spoofing religion. However, the beginning and closing three cuts are nothing less of spectacular (in my book anyway), so this album is quite on par with the Sing-Along Songs. The “riot-opera” lives on and is doing well.

Killing Songs :
Voodoo Mon AMour, Guerilla Laments, kevlar Sweethearts, Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball, Honey Trap Aftermath, Of Kali Ma Calibre, Justice for Saint Mary
Alex quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Diablo Swing Orchestra that we have reviewed:
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pacifisticuffs reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious reviewed by Charles and quoted 73 / 100
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