With Alice and its companion release, Blood Money, Waits completes a theatrical trilogy that began with 1993's The Black Ryder.

With Alice and its companion release, Blood Money, Waits completes a theatrical trilogy that began with 1993's The Black Ryder. All three sets derive from collaborations with avant-garde director Robert Wilson on retellings of classic European tales—Die Freischütz for The Black Ryder, Woyzeck for Blood Money, and Alice in Wonderland for Alice. Rather than the junkyard blues of 1999's Grammy Award-winning Mule Variations, the new discs find Waits in his Weimar Berlin mode. The fractured fairy stories of Alice are set to broken-kaleidoscope orchestrations, while Blood Money has a darker, more elemental edge. Melodies from beer-hall singalongs and the rhythms of carnival rides provide impetus, as do German Kabarette and sentimental torch songs. Waits and songwriting partner (and wife) Kathleen Brennan weave all their sources into vastly entertaining song cycles, driven by sonic daredevilry and a gift for language that is alternately haunting and hilarious.—BB