“Business is bad” confesses Karen Mantler, and many in the music world will sympathize. Almost 20 years have passed since Karen’s last leader album on XtraWatt (Farewell). In the interim she has been a Virgin artist with her Pet Project disc, appeared on several recordings with parents Michael Mantler (The School of Understanding) and Carla Bley (The Carla Bley Big Band Goes To Church, Looking for America, Appearing Nightly), been a member of the Golden Palaminos, participated in diverse Robert Wyatt tribute bands and homages to Disney and Nino Rota, played accordion on street corners, given harmonica lessons, and served coffee in SoHo.
The struggle to maintain her own projects has perhaps strengthened her own brand of whimsical songwriting. Snowstorms, volcanoes, lawyers and bill-collectors do their damnedest to dampen Mantler’s moods in these songs of woe but Karen’s vocal delivery remains stoical and nonchalant. Doug Wieselman (of Anthony and the Johnsons, Lounge Lizards, and Kamikaze Ground Crew fame) and Kato Hideki (whose many credits include the Death Ambient trio and projects with John Zorn) lend subtle and supple support throughout.