In Rotation, February 2006
The Endless Republic of Heaven
Track Listing: Initiation, Pentecost, Labyrinth, Simply Sleep, Huntington, On The Mend, Wraiths, A Lullaby for Myself, Not a Man Of God, Clouded, Republic Of Heaven, Closing Rite.
All right you sensitive, angst-filled puppies, youre gonna love this one. But you darker brooding types might be pleasantly startled as well.
To start, Adriana and David Roze, have achieved a dynamic together that transcends the usual husband and wife music collaboration. Its instinctive, and it shows. Thought the title of this album is based on a Trilogy by Phillip Pullman; it actually deals with Adrianas mothers struggle with cancer and her inevitable death. Hold on! Before you let your sap alarm go off, let me assure you this is not some maudlin self indulgent train wreck put to CD. Its not. Yes its introspective, but surprisingly dark too!
Art is great when you can manage to make your creative efforts transcend the dark times.
But intentions dont always follow through. Fortunately David and Adriana have the wit to curb their emotional indulgences and deal with loss and death honestly and courageously. Perhaps the best track is Simply Sleep in which one partner admonishes the grieving one to stop torturing themselves and take some much-needed rest to heal.
This sagacious statement is wrapped in lush guitar lines and hypnotic percussion and keyboards that just pull you in. It does so right from the beginning of this album with the track Initiation, which begins with the chiming of meditation bells. Thats indeed what this CD is: a meditation on suffering and loss that will resonate with listeners whove been down that road. Speaking of resonating, this critic found his heartstrings tugged at with the quiet, anthemic, song Pentecost. And I dont buy easily into this stuff!
Stylistically, this duo has drawn comparisons to Poe, This Mortal Coil, Tori Amos and Jane Siberry. Understandable yes, but theres nothing derivative to this talented duo! Theyve even received kudos from Neil Gaiman! So if you sturm und drang types are looking for something a little different, you might find yourself surprised. As for you mush puppies; youll be pleasantly surprised at the fierce, courageous spirit of this album!
Four out of Five Skulls for this one!
Nox Arcana Necronomicon
Track Listing: Mythos, The Nameless City, Alhazreds Vision, Necronomicon, Ancient Shadows, Azathoth, The Black Throne, Nyarlahotep, Temple Of the Black Pharoh, Eldritch Rites, The Haunter Of the Dark, The Awakening, Yog-Sothoth, Guardian Of The Gate, Lords Of Darkness, Dagon, The Stars Align, Chthulu, Ritual Of Summoning, Chthulu Rising, The Great Old Ones.
That is not dead which can eternal lie...
And with strange aeons even death may die.
H.P. Lovecraft, Nyarlahotep
Some of the previous work by Messrs. Vargo and Piotrowski Ive found just a little too campy for my liking. But Im happy to say that theyve hit the mark on this one. Necronomicon is a delightfully eerie, aural exploration of the, Chthulu Mythos.
For those few who arent familiar with, Chthulu, and his universe, heres a quick intro:
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) wrote a collection of stories that revolve around Lovecrafts native New England, where intrepid scholars and hapless victims encounter evil, supernatural entities trying secure a foothold in our world. The stories are embroidered with Grecian and Middle Eastern iconography along with a healthy dose of occultism and astronomy; peppered with a vowel-challenged fictional language. Its a rich universe to plunder from, and many have tried. The thing is, Lovecrafts work does have a melodramatic flavour to it that doesnt translate well unless you acknowledge it. Well, Vargo and Piotrowski have done just that, and the result is delicious!
I also believe the other reason this album works is because Joseph Vargo has allowed his production experience with Midnight Syndicate seep into this one. This project is more of a soundtrack, than a concept album, which gives it more cohesion.
The tracks themselves are lushly layered with synth strings, ominous percussion and otherworldly vocals that make use of dramatic, musical intervals. Theyve also had fun interspersing quotes from Lovecrafts work as well as sneaking in that campy quote from The Day the Earth Stood Still that Sam Raimi exploited in his Evil Dead series. (Cmon! I dont have to spell that one out do I?)
So put this one in your deck. Turn the lights off, light the candles, warm the brandy and dont be surprised if you hear something scratching at your windowpane! YAH! YAH! PHNGLUI, MGLWNAFL, CTHULU! RLEH WGAH, NAGL, FHTAGN!
Current 93 How He Loved The Moon (Songs For Jhonn Balance)
Track Listing: Tide 1, Tide2, Tide 3, Tide 4.
Current 93 is one those projects that is perpetually in a state of flux. Always evading any concrete definition. Elusive in categorization, in genre, style or trend. Personally I think David Tibet (the brains behind this operation) is evasive of almost anything! Bound and determined to keep you guessing. This offering by 93 is no different in this respect.
This album is dedicated to the memory of fellow collaborator and COIL mastermind Jhonn Balance. Its comprised of tracks from the album In The Menstrual Night remixed by Steven Stapleton. Again, a classic scenario from Tibet and friends, variations on a theme, old tracks dusted off, forged into new works. A vibrant, state of flux. You are stepping into an aural river, and this river flows!
The river in this case is composed of soundscapes. They are snippets of sounds, clips of voices and objects, profusely layered.
They are filtered sketches where the listener is invited to complete the story. This is also why Im partial to their soundscapes and in the scheme of things; this is why youre better off approaching C93s work this way. Whatever your stance, you wont be disappointed.
The tracks will intrigue you with their loops, ticks, clicks and murmurs. A rich aural landscape unfolds before your ears. In Tide 4(more on the track listing later) the wash of sound is punctuated with a muted dub profundis that shuffles mysteriously in the tracks undercurrent. Youll always find something new with repeated listenings. It will intrigue you, constantly teasing your curiousity!
I mentioned earlier about the track listing: They appear to be purposely vague on the CD whereas the Double LP edition has such biblical titles like, Ecclesiastes XII: 2 and Song Of Solomon. Pandering to the vinylphiliacs? I doubt it. Just another quirk of Current 93s to keep you guessing! Oh yeah, the cover? That purple phallus in the upper right just has to be a playful nod to Mr. Balance! Om Mane Padme Hum, Jhonn, I hope your passing through the Bardos was swift!
Elán The Deluge of Soundtracks and Other Voices From the Worlds Silent Majority
Track Listing: Afterbirth part 2, Rotary Bug, Afterbirth part 1, Micro Calliope, Linen, Hum Width, Kill the Wabbit, Fhive, Lizard Special,
Polymeric Trickster, Gordon, Madwhales Bass Car, Rubber Baby Bubble Bumpkin, Blanco.
Sting: (noun, cinema) A short percussive phrase played by a musician or
sound technician to accent a scene in a film.
(Biology) the part of a number of animals, such as wasps, bees and
scorpions, which delivers a poison when used to pierce the skin of another
People who study entomology dig us. Michael Serviolo, Elán
Michaels quip, and the above definitions sum up the character of this CD nicely. It is buggy, in a most playful way. Michael Serviolo and Chris Steele use their keyboards, sequencers, digital loops, and electronic filters to scurry about like manic fire ants!
Melodies can fluctuate between the ponderous gait of a Stag Beetle to the whirlwind buzz of a bee. Theres playfulness to this work thats just
delightful! Unlike Current 93s offering this month, Elán invite you into their electronica ant farm. This is fun, kiddies! Although there are a few tracks to keep you darklings happy: Afterbirth 2 and Linen have all the post–partum depression of the most morose Radiohead tune. While, Fhive, is an organ chord that drones on like a horror movie sting.
But these tracks are not long enough to completely suck you in. Face it, sometimes you have to put down your copy of Fluers de Mal and watch some
Looney Tunes! Speaking of which, the track Kill The Wabbit, is a short but prolonged loop of a tribal battle wail. The sporadic moods and length of the melodies however ensure that the playfulness is never abandoned. Lots of pastiches like Lizard Special which sounds like an Animé restaurant, and the deceptively titled Rubber Baby Bubble Bumpkin sounds like John Cage on Crystal Meth!
The album itself is aptly titled. Eláns aural sketches have all cinematic quality of cues and stings used in films, without the posturing of an art house film. A Cheeze-Whiz lite if you like. Relax! Take a bite. Its not chocolate covered ants!