Title - 'Andy Bell's Torsten in Queereteria'
Artist - Andy Bell
For those not in the know, Torsten In Queereteria is the third solo album by Andy Bell (Erasure) performing as alter-ego Torsten; a gender-fluid, semi-immortal who, having loved and lost many during an unnaturally elongated life, is left haunted by his lifetime of bittersweet memories.
Torsten is a role Andy Bell first took up at the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival in 2014 in Torsten The Bareback Saint, and a role reprised by him in the critically acclaimed, 2016 follow up, Torsten The Beautiful Libertine which enjoyed a sell-out run at London’s Above The Stag Theatre.
Torsten In Queereteria is a unique pop / musical theatre collaboration between Erasure singer Andy Bell, poet/playwright Barney Ashton-Bullock and musician Christopher Frost.
This new album, three years in the making, is structured around four separate themed Acts which deal with different aspects of both Torsten’s life story and his self-realisation; each song designed as if a postcard insight into a particular hot-spot of memory.
ACT 1: Remembrance, Youth and Beauty
1. 'A HUNDRED YEARS PLUS TODAY'
2. 'YOU STAMPEDE AN OPEN WOUND'
3. 'LOWLAND LOWRIDERS'
4. 'I AM OF THE SEA'
ACT 2: The Hedonism and The Hurting
5. 'CABARET AWAYDAY'
7. 'IF WE WANT TO DRINK A LITTLE'
ACT 3: Bitter Regrets
8. 'THOU SHALT BE MY VIBE'
9. 'MONEY WITH MENACES'
10. 'LET’S BE SOBER ANOTHER TIME'
11. 'COME AND TASTE MY BREAKDOWN'
ACT 4: To Mourn and To Miss
12. 'TO KNOW GOOD MEN FROM PERVERTS'
13. 'WE HADN’T SLEPT FOR TWENTY YEARS'
14. 'SILENCE IS GOLDEN'
15. 'NOT OPTING OUT'
A surreal tale spun end to end, Andy Bell's Torsten in Queereteria is the further spawning of a man born in 1905 who's been and seen a lot of things in his time. Being 114, Torsten has made his fair share of friends along the way and he speaks of a few of them here on this third installment.
With this new album being even more anarchic than its two predecessors, the album (Act One) opens with Torsten in a deeply reflective mood on ‘A Hundred Years Plus Today.’
Mulling over the in's and out's of the longevity of his life it precedes three recollections, in song, of intense events from long ago times spent with lost friends and lovers.
It also speaks of the hope, uniquely embodied in coming from a coastal town, that the sea might deliver temptations in the guise of sailor lovers.
Act Two narrates a headlong bounding into hedonism; interacting with strange, seaside town, cottaging cruisers in ‘Cabaret Awayday’, to the respite and debauchery afforded by trips to the Queereteria cruising club and a stout defense of partying and drunkenness in ‘If We Want To Drink A Little’ (a duet with my beloved friend, Hazel O’Connor of ‘Breaking Glass’ fame).
A haunted soul, it's obvious Torsten doesn't particularly enjoy still being around, even though his search for the Fountain of Youth is one shared by many, of course.
In Act Three, Torsten hits rock bottom and becomes a tad unpleasant and bitter. ‘Thou Shalt Be My Vibe’ portrays a manipulative, drugged-up, drunk Torsten driving a potentially exploitative relationship.
‘Money With Menaces’ is an ode to the bitterness of both parties in a rent-boy / sugar daddy relationship. ‘Let’s Be Sober Another Time’ sees Torsten in denial of his chronic alcoholism which leads, in turn, to a mindless and provocative challenge to all his remaining friends and cohorts to ‘Come And Taste My Breakdown’, concluding Act Three.
Within these lyrics we discover that his bones are really brittle now and that he is beginning to get worn out from all the partying and good times, but yet he forges forward - now within his drug-addled state.
Levity is restored in Act Four in which an older Torsten is in more reflective mood about leaving his partying years behind.
‘To Know Good Men From Perverts’ is the culmination of the experience that life affords in learning one of its ultimate lessons, the discernment between those who we can trust and those who seek to harm us.
‘We Hadn’t Slept For Twenty Years’, the lead single from the album, is a loving reminiscence of close friends and the mayhem and mirth of their formative years partying with a vengeance!
‘Silence Is Golden’ pays emotional tribute to an aged lover who has recently died, someone who sublimated the existential angst and fear of knowing he was nearing death by a mania to read widely and an insistence on ‘Silence’ to enable him to do so.
‘Not Opting Out’, the album’s defiant closing number is Torsten’s reckoning that though his own life may be nearer its end, he remains stalwartly an active participant in it; even though the ever accelerating pace of change is spiritually and physically exhausting, he will not be defeated.
The musical tale of a semi-immortal polysexual who is destined to love many, lose many and be haunted by bittersweet memories, Andy Bell's Torsten in Queereteria is a quite stunning work of musical art that, as Andy himself has said on more than one occasion, has taxed him re: the spoken word epilogues.
But here, well, he nails every line, every forceful emittance of love, hope despair and reward as if his life depended on it.
The CD comes with a richly illustrated 32 page lyric booklet.
Official CD Purchase Link
Andy Bell @ Twitter