"Happy Rhodes magically combines the lush, ethereal lightness of Kate Bush with the eerie rock and roll edge of David Bowie."
--Queenie, GUITARLAB MAGAZINE
Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is the crowning masterpiece album from enigmatic songwriter Happy Rhodes. Rhodes, who lives a simple, quiet life in rural upstate New York with her husband, is one of the greatest secret gems ever to grace the musical world.
Her perfect four-octave range voice will capture you with its immediate brilliance and carry you away with its seductive depths. No other singer, regardless of genre, can compete with Rhode's sultry lows, which bring to mind Annie Lennox and David Bowie. Her angelic high range is tinged with the essence of Kate Bush, strangely operatic, infinitely gorgeous.
It is almost impossible to listen to Happy Rhodes's music and resist becoming one of her underground legion of fans, who are known affectionately as Ectophiles. Named after Happy's fourth album, the Ecto mailing list began in 1991 (as an offshoot of a Kate Bush Internet newsgroup) following Happy's music and expanded to encompass music with female vocals, intelligent songwriting, and innovative sounds.
Happy's music, the leader of the Ecto music trend, has created a diverse independent listener base around the world.
Rhodes is a storyteller, creating captivating environments in each song. Travel the musical journey of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, and join the independent revolution.
-- Kim Steele
PULSE! (John Diliberto), August 1998 -- Happy Rhodes is an upstate New York singer-songwriter and vocal chameleon who has been working an extraordinary magic for years on 10 self-produced albums. She draws immediate comparisons to Kate Bush: Her voice leaps to the same precarious highs, but she also touches deeper, seductive lows. At times her voice is knowing, poignant and serene, ascending into choirs, then whispering huskily into your ear that “Everything I do is madness.” Rhodes has always delved into dark, interior states of mind, often arising out of a troubled childhood. Orchestrating a textured electronica landscape, she makes inquiries into God, existence and on “100 Years” computer games. Swampy, distorted percussion, searing e-bow guitars and looping melodies populate the interior rooms of a wired world, in which Happy Rhodes is a cyber-troubadour, keeping watch on our souls. (4 * out of 5) -- John Diliberto
HEARTBEATS CATALOG -- Happy Rhodes fans were possibly a bit put-off by the dense electronic textures and bleak lyrics, but if so, they missed out on her best work in years, perhaps ever. Her song topics have never been cheery, and she's never been a simple guitar-strumming minstrel either. The synthesizers are perfectly appropriate to the futuristic subject matter, and because she has loved electronic music since she was a child, they feel natural and authentic to her sound. On top of these dense soundscapes, Happy piles layers of her prodigious vocals, ranging from lovely high ornaments to those warm lows that no one else on the planet can produce. "Ra is a Busy God" updates an instrumental that appeared on an Aural Gratification compilation a couple of years ago, and the vocals actually improve what had been one of my favorites from those collections. "100 Years" proves that Happy really does understand the cyborg mind. "The Chariot" is a little closer to her other work, sad and beautiful all at once. And "Serenading Genius" is the catchiest pop tune you will never hear on the radio. The sound of the CD may not be as immediately inviting as some of her previous recordings, but if you give it a chance, the tunes will get under your skin. Of course, then they will probably organize, make their way to your brain and implant some scary mechanism that no one understands. It's OK, it's worth it. Resistance is futile. Get Happy and tell everyone you know they can, too. (1998)
ALBUM NETWORK, July 3, 1998 -- Upstate New York’s best kept secret, Happy Rhodes, is about to take a giant leap in awareness. Long considered by those who know her as one of the most original & creative artists on the scene today, her newest effort, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, is destined to spread the word on her own terms. Rhodes’ previous albums have amply displayed her amazing vocal range & penchant for writing songs that create distinct moods, but Many Worlds... represents new areas of expression for Rhodes, especially in the areas of arrangement & production; the songs on the disc are enlightened & cutting edge. A common thread runs through the album, dealing with that which is spiritual & imaginative.
CMJ NEW MUSIC REPORT, August 10, 1998 -- Although this is Rhodes’ first nationally-distributed album, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is the ninth [tenth, actually] full-length release by this chanteuse with the amazing four-octave range. Sounding a bit like Kate Bush in her high end, but with an equally full low range to match, Ms. Rhodes’ compositions are atmospheric, electronic delights.
FRIDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK, June 26, 1998 -- Set for retail release on August 11, Happy Rhodes’ debut release for Samson Music, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, is her first musical outing since 1995’s The Keep. Rhodes, a multi-instrumentalist & seasoned studio engineer, has been recording her own compositions since the mid-’80s & has amassed a loyal following of fans dedicated to her ethereal sound (imagine a mixture of Kate Bush, Enya & Loreena McKennitt). Look for her tour (beginning in August) with a six-piece band, where she has stated, she will play Many Worlds Are Born Tonight in its entirety.
DOOM MAGAZINE -- I was recently introduced to Happy Rhodes by the Diva a while ago, and I am incredibly impressed. This eccentric, thoughtful, and highly talented artist has been making music since the mid -80's, and is still going strong today.
Very left of center and highly intelligent, Happy Rhodes is a musician whose work is hard to define, hard to describe, and hard to not love.
Originality- 10 out of 10
If any person on Earth is unique, it's Happy Rhodes- she's a woman so original that she not only cannot be classified by any conventional standards, but she creates her own stand-alone genre, referred to by fans as "ectophilic". She's a one of a kind woman with a one of a kind style.
Composition- 10 out of 10
An incredible and thought provoking piece of art- each track is highly metaphorical and pleasing to hear. From the beautiful 'Ra is a Busy God', to the despairing but fascinating 'Looking over Cliffs', Happy Rhodes knows how to work emotions like a musical instrument, and vice versa. It's amazing that she has had no formal musical training, and after hearing this, you won't believe it, either.
Musicality- 10 out of 10
Not surprisingly, Happy has a very unique voice and an incredible range. One moment she'll be crooning in her soothing, low voice, and then suddenly leap to a sharp and melodic soprano without warning. Anyone who is capable of sounding like two different people at once without the aid of witchcraft is a diva in my book.
Overall- 10 out of 10
What can I say, it's a gorgeous album. A work of art for art's sake. If you find yourself frustrated with the world around you, get ahold of this CD, dim your lights and press play- Auntie Happy will make it all better!
TERRA INCOGNITA, Summer 1998 -- When I received my copy of Happy Rhodes’ new CD, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, I was hopping in my car to take a short trek. What perfect timing, I thought. Listening to this new, long-awaited CD would be the perfect thing to take my mind off something as loathsome & boring as driving down I-87. Why, I would pop it in & all would be Zen. So, what made me think this album would sound good in my car? Ya know...the back speakers are hanging out of the holes, &, of course, the front speakers are so shot that if I heard one note through them, I’d have to throw myself under the tires. I fiddled with the knobs to make the music sound a little more appealing than a galloping cat’s toenails on a wooden floor, hit “play” & set out for a trip into the cosmos.
My brain was booted out of my skull immediately. The more I listened, the more befuddled I became. What was this? My ears were assaulted by a cornucopia of sounds, textures & rhythms that were completely unexpected & far too incomprehensible for my brain in that car with those speakers of death. There was stuff buried under other stuff. And then more stuff. This boggling album was stuffed with stuff, the musical depth nothing short of phenomenal. I decided that listening & driving was a stupid idea & I would have to save this one for the headphones. In the quiet of my home, with my ears enveloped in padded vinyl, Many Worlds was completely ahhhhh, though hardly conceivable with the first listen. There are symphonies upon symphonies going on here. Very busy. Highly electronic. Quite extraordinary. If you think you can take this music in the first time, you are an utter fool--Bose speakers or no. Be like a Boy Scout. Be prepared. Opulence awaits you.
The first sound you hear on the CD is an electronic pseudo-growl, perhaps the simulated grumble of another of Happy’s mind-creatures. “100 Years” is a Sci-Fi adventure that strangely reminded me of Portishead at first (which could only be a good thing). A slow, dragging beat, warped vocals, weird noises & creepy, robotic electronics--including some of David Torn’s textures--set the stage for this story of a clone on a deserted world waiting for someone to return & claim him. And just when you’ve been sucked into his pathetic world by Happy’s sweet, yet emotionless, girlish soprano, a crystalline operatic vocal lunges in & speaks the grief he cannot feel. And you thought you’d heard all of Happy’s voices...this one is shocking. Gives me chills. It’s no wonder KCRW in Santa Monica picked this one up right away. This song is the embodiment of unfulfilled expectation, of longing without resolution. Maybe in 100 years I’ll get over the initial shock of it.
Happy wouldn’t dare give you a clue in the popping electronic percussion that opens the title track, but as soon as those 12,000 vocal layers of “ah--ee--ah” begin, you know what’s going on. Those of you who have heard Happy live in the past few years might exclaim, “Hey, wait a cotton-pickin’ minute...this is “Jork!” Yup. It is. Only this is the souped-up, walloping techno version. Get ready for those layers to blanket your psyche. In the liner notes, Happy says, “Rarefaction’s a poke in the ear with a sharp stick...voice.” She ain’t kiddin’. This song is where Sybil resides. And there’s that growling thingy again.
“The Chariot” features those groovin’ Bartlett bongos that we love & is a bittersweet piece featuring brawny vocals for the verses & wistful soprano for the chorus. (Funny, but this masterful, mixed-up maestro begins more than half of her new songs with the chorus). She promises she’ll be sweet in this song, & she certainly is darling. And as a special treat, this is the only song--to the best of my knowledge--ever recorded that features a linguini grill. You’ll get a little acoustic guitar here, too, & some meditative chimes at the end. (Get ready for a special treat when you see this one live). The chimes lead into...
“Ra is a Busy God.” Yes, this is the same song from Aural Gratification Volume I, but with a few musical changes &, finally, vocals. A children’s choir is--you guessed it--the Happy Rhodes kiddie chorus. This tune was always one of my favorite Rhodes melodies, & she once told me she would write lyrics for it. Naturally, I wondered what they would be. And now that they have emerged as innocent-child-dancing-in-nature references, to listen is levity. As a true leaf zealot, this one is an instant winner for me. Next?
There are reverberations in “If Wishes Were Horses, How Beggars Would Ride” that mimic breathing, or the chug of a steam engine, or, perhaps, horses hooves. Nonetheless, this song radiates motion & is a textured, melancholy beauty. And remember when Peter Frampton used to sing that distorted “Do you feel like we do?” into that weird tube thingy? I think she called him up & borrowed it. The notion that she can combine all these various layers of slow, circular, pulsing electronics & unearthly noises, & still come up with a poignant song that rips your guts out suggests, to me, that there is a marvel among us.
Okay, here we go. It’s the first single from the album. It’s “Roy (Back From the Offworld)!” Get out your funkiest dancing shoes, cause this is a clubby. I can almost feel the strobe lights & see the drunken, burly bar devils eyeing me, wondering what kind of chick/broad/hunk-o’-meat I am. Regardless, this tune will catch you & carry you away immediately, kind of like those Wizard of Oz monkeys. The album version is slightly more mellow than the radio single, which has a steady beat throughout. Here again, intriguing backing vocals from Happy--I have no idea what she’s saying (but I’m sure I will at some point, because someone will want to know & I’ll have to ask). Also, a gorgeous violin solo from classical musician Rob Taylor adds a little angst to this story of the dude from--surprise!--Blade Runner. She’s opening doors to pop radio here. But hey, fine with me. Even people listening to Madonna need to transcend sometime.
“Tragic” begins suspensefully, & features some carnival-esque keyboards at the onset. This is a ballad of boys (see Happy’s interpretation later on) & features drums & percussion by one prestigious boy, Jerry Marotta. The keyboards in the bridge of this song are what really do it for me. They’re simple & clean, & lead into a majestic classical choir that stirs the blood. Nope, it isn’t a Happy choir this time. Shocker.
Like a friend of mine said after hearing the opening strains of “Proof”: “Wow, this sounds like the Butthole Surfers!” Not being too huge a Butthole fan, I can’t say yea or nay to that, but it’s pretty heavy stuff for Rhodes. And cool, cool, cool. A welcome feel to the myriad other Happy feels. Get ready to rock with Kelly Bird, Carl Adami, Kevin Bartlett & Mitch Elrod. This song slows down at one point, during which Happy empties out the contents of her brain & and melds her thoughts with some of Carl’s coolest bass to date. This song is also full of samples. It’s worth listening to for the sheer joy of hearing Happy’s incensed snarl of “you’re sure to be fine.”
“Looking Over Cliffs” is one for fans of the song “Warpaint.” A heavy Native American feel embodies this work both lyrically & musically. She even borrowed some real Native American chanting from a tape she bought from an American Indian on the street, & she decided to “cut out its heart & set it free.” A background Happy echoes the lyrics of the foreground one, as if to reiterate the tribulation in one culture’s extinction. In this song, she exercises her primary instrument--voice--by whooping a war cry, belting out some gravely vocals, & exhibiting vocal gymnastics that listeners will be pleased with. Some nice keyboards & haunting chants end this one.
“Winter” is one of the most masterfully luscious Happy Rhodes songs I’ve heard, with loopy, ambient electronics & an exquisite voice singing of sorrow. It has that sensuous “Summer” feel, but even more textured & somber. She explores her upper range fully here, soaring like a bird & pecking at ultra high notes (which are sure to rear the heads of additional Kate references). Unexpectedly, the song morphs into a series of tribal grunts & ugghs which are washed over by high, lilting vox, then the song returns again to sombience. The music seems to be tugging her, both artistically & emotionally, in opposite directions. It’s juxtaposed joy.
The final song of the album,“Serenading Genius,” is an epic. It follows in the footsteps of “Glory” with an eruption of feel-good, sure to be a favorite among listeners. She sings this from the heart. It’s more uplifting than Anne of Green Gables. A simple piano melody welcomes in a swelling chorus of Happies, singing of potential & a offering a plea to the heavens. She tries to squeeze in a lot here (is this the bridge...or is this the bridge?). It is the culmination of her life’s experiences in one phrase: “Love I have found is in music...Peace swallows me when there’s genius.” I love this song. It is like the overlapping of dreams with no sign of waking.
Let’s talk about this artwork of this CD for just a mo’. As an astronomy fiend, my greatest love is falling into a diamond-filled sky & marveling at distant galaxies. This artwork made me bonkers. The surreal scene on the back cover--Happy strolling through an almost colorless field wearing a bright blue gown, with numerous galaxies looming over the trees--positively summons me into that world & inspires me to reach for the supreme. It reminds me that I am the universe aware of itself. (Dammit, I want to be in that scene.) And here we have the artist on the cover, holding a world she has just created, & there are other worlds scattered throughout the CD booklet. Symbolic? I believe so. Reading the words to the closing track says it all. Happy Rhodes is reaching for her potential, becoming a creator, & striving to exalt herself to the highest of heights through her workmanship.
In my estimation, this is the finest of Happy’s music. As she continues to mature & explore new territory, I can’t help but wonder what she has up her sleeve next. Perhaps this album is far too advanced for the average listener. It certainly isn’t something that can be understood with one listen. But once you’ve soaked it in, you’ll no doubt wonder how you ever lived without this masterpiece. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is a milestone for both Happy Rhodes & the music world. Way cool beans, Hap. A+" --Sharon Nichols
KXCI-FM, Jim Foley - Music Director "So, why do I like Happy Rhodes recordings? It isn't simple to disentangle the threads of her phenomenon for analysis, and the attempt may even be a disservice to it (and her), but it is after all what music reviewers do. First, there is Rhodes the person, of whom I remain innocent of knowledge, despite recognition that there is a burgeoning volume of material shared by a committed fandom. Must be the New Critic in me or, as Annie Gallup says, "trust the art, not the artist." There is also the content of her lyrics, the design choices of album packages, both striking and disturbing, suggesting psychological interpretations which I also habitually resist. Finally, there is the surface, what her music sounds like, and here "Many Worlds are Born Tonight" remains true to the techno-muse trajectory set on Rhodes' 1993 release "Equipoise," fortified by dense sampling and a stripped-down, almost meditational lyrical sense reminiscent of Jenifer Smith's 1997 release "Code Mesa."
Start with "100 Years"; after all, it's the first track. The basic production features synthesized techno percussion, dense keyboard sampling augmented by varied sounds of satellites and spheres, the mysterious and ominous mutterings of half-heard voices along crossed telephone lines at midnight, from which rise the manifold manifestations of Rhodes' astonishing vocal range. High, reedy chants, often in tight harmony, offset her rich, resonant narrative voice, nearly a baritone, describing an immortal being, more machine than man, abandoned, bereft of guidance, the prey of inexorable entropy, a startling, disturbing, pathetic conceit.
If the bass line of "Proof" doesn't blow your speakers, the strident depth of Rhodes' vocal on the chorus, backed by harmonies not much higher, will blow your mind (been waitin' since the sixties to write that). The beat is shuffling and insistent, a triumphal entry to an identity crisis interrupted by discordant realization ("I was young, I was free once. Nothing I could ever think to do was wrong, then ..."), or is that the true delusion? This is followed by "Looking Over Cliffs," an intense techno-waltz, humming synth and tinkling, slightly dissonant piano prefiguring the fugue between Rhodes' deep lead vocal, betraying a rare raspy emotionalism, and contrapuntal chorus, shamanistic samplings stressing a mythic if not entirely clear theme, perhaps of a sort of redemption.
This is but a bare introduction to the tracks on "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight." Happy Rhodes' vocal and production tricks, alloyed with the semi-choate ominousness of her lyrics, suggest the soundtrack to a New Age film, but without the flaccidity. Listen loud and let your mind's eye roam. Goof gloriously.
(Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this artist. Hell, I've never even seen her perform, and don't know her. I am not paid in advance to write reviews, although on rare occasions someone will pay me for use rights after the fact. If this is hype, then ALL speech is hype.)"
Craig Gidney -- A Madonna of the Machine -- "Rhodes is a singer-songerwriter multiinstrumentalist with an awesome 5-octave range and powerful story-telling skills. On this CD--her first major label release--she brings to fruition her unique synthesis of electronic music and complex vocal harmonies. “100 Years”, the opener, illustrates her technique perfectly: a tapestry of computerized blips and bleeps form the background for a texturized ambient piece; her voice leaps from a soprano, highly reminiscent of Kate Bush to a deeper register: think Grace Jones or Annie Lennox. The lyrics are written from the point of view of a decaying computer. The song ends with wordless, classical-inflected swoops. The title track begins with a low, humming mantra, with syncopated chirrups, over which her low, sensual range intones a hypnotic melody. Most of the tracks of the album follow in a similar vein: lush, electronic soundscapes are crafted for her awesome instrument, with dark and philosophical lyrics. Her themes are primarily about various aspects of consciousness and the search for self. The percussion ranges from programmed drums, to “real” drums and clanking/clattering sound-effects. Her use of samples is impressive and nearly seamless. Highly recommended for fans of Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, and Jane Siberry."
Josh Weichel -- Happy Polishes Her Cleverness and Songwriting Skills -- "Happy Rhodes continues with the computer-flavored musical style she's been good at for quite some time with "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight.". Her previous release, "Building the Colossus," shared similarly flavored tunes. But it certainly won't be possible to confuse this album with any of her others. The first track, "100 Years," starts off with a synthetic soundscape, singing "With no genetic code/so pathetic am I/Don't have the luxury/Of knowing someday I'll die/Is this the second eden/Am I the new Adam." The textures of this first track continue to make their presence known throughout the album. The feeling of floating through tunnels and along horizons of colors and lights is given off as a natural part of "Many Worlds ..." But her skills don't end with a mastery at the keyboard and computer. Her trademark vocals and lyrics are also at full-force. Harmonies and counter-melodies float about as well, adding an analog texture to their digital counterparts. Some incredible results ensue, such as a duet answer/response with a violin in the sixth track, "Roy," and crisp voices in the proceeding "Tragic": "I see you/Because you are tragic/And I need you/For the same/There's a little bit of you in me/You can't escape what you became ... Although we share/Pain and despair/Somehow/You are predisposed/To suffer the most." There's even some edgier material, complete with drum loops as with "Proof." The final track, "Serenading Genius," ends with "Every night/I go to sleep/And dream of what I seek/I serenade/I'm serenading genius so .../Come on/Come down/And be with me/Come on/Come down/Give me the key." My guess would be that she's indeed been given the key and "Many Worlds" is one of the doors she's unlocked."
J Hanson -- Rhodes Genius Evident in Latest Release -- "Discovering Happy Rhodes is like discovering a vein of gold in the middle of a busy street. You stand in stupefied amazement at how such a treasure could have been overlooked so long. "Many Worlds are Born Tonight", Happy's 10th studio album and first release on Samson records, will hopefully help garner the attention she deserves. Happy's trademark multi-octave voice (often compared to Kate Bush) and long-time collaborator Kevin Bartlett's innovate guitar work are both featured on this new release. Deep rumbling base, complex vocal arrangements, and lots of cool electronica create a sonic landscape similar to the visual landscape created in the movie BladeRunner, the inspiration for at least one track on the new album, "Roy". Happy continues to do what she does best, finding the heart in the monster, the android, the horror that is humanity. In the final track, "Serenading Genius", Happy sings "I don't sing because I've found it, I sing because I'm looking for it." Happy's genius is clearly evident on this latest release."