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BIG ELECTRIC CAT (Buy CDs by this artist)
Dreams of a Mad King (Cleopatra) 1994
Burning Embers (Cleopatra) 1995

Maybe Big Electric Cat's thoroughly original interpretation of the gothic sound results from being based in Sydney, Australia, maybe not. In any case, the band's surprisingly enthusiastic method is on spirited display in Dreams of a Mad King. Guitarist Paul Sadler's emotional vocals alternate from a sensual purr to a menacing snarl, all the while sounding a lot like INXS's Michael Hutchence. His instrumental efforts produce a shimmery, slinky mix of acoustic and electric melodies. Bassist David Block and keyboardist/programmer Deborah Denton wrap the material in haunting, dramatic flourishes and undercurrents, crafting a sound that's moody and atmospheric, with a twist of decidedly non-goth warmth and color. In fact, the only emotionless element here is the drum machine.

Burning Embers is an unfortunate attempt to milk more mileage from the debut. Remixes of songs from Dreams of a Mad King recklessly turn the once-powerful, provocative compositions into generic club-oriented bits of nightmarish offal.

[Katherine Yeske]