Oct 26, 2009

helena espvall & masaki batoh

helena espvall & masaki batoh - overloaded ark (drag city, 2009)

A sequel to last year's eponymous debut as a duo, this new Drag City LP from Espers cellist Helena Espvall and Ghost's Masaki Batoh delves even deeper into traditional and ancient musics, making use of an armoury of instruments that extends beyond 'mildly obscure' (renaissance harp, sho, hurdy gurdy, etc) and enters into the realm of 'are you sure you haven't just made that up?' (auschpfeife, crumhorn, cornamuse, rig and darbuka). On hand to assist in this piece of instrumental archeology is ancient music specialist Haruo Kondo as well as two of Batoh's Ghost bandmates (namely Junzo Tateiwa and Kazuo Ogino). Overloaded Ark reinterprets songs dug up from a variety of different cultures, from Scandinavian folk to French and Italian medieval court dances - with a spot of German madrigal thrown in as a crowd-pleaser. In addition to the album's appropriation of Cuban protest songs and Latin hymns, you do actually get to hear some original compositions by the duo themselves: beautiful, elongated pieces like 'Until Tomorrow' and 'Over The Luminescence Land' find the pair on terrific form, with the former in particular capturing the unearthly prog-folk magic (possibly with a 'k' at the end) these two can summon up. Recommended.

Esperaba con inquietud e incertidumbre una segunda colaboración y al final llegó... y que decir, Ghost es un favorito entre favoritos,
el primer disco parecía difícil de superar pero lo han conseguido. Helena se deja llevar y aterrizan en un universo más cercano al de Ghost pero en él sólo aflora una hipnótica y diversa tradición, hasta Helena se atreve en español rodeada de serpientes. Habría tanto que decir que lo voy a dejar aquí: mistery-magic-folk.

Oct 8, 2009

united bible studies

united bible studies - the jonah (camera obscura, 2009)

The album title is a reference to the James Herbert novel where a "Jonah" is a cursed person who brings bad luck everywhere, and is also the title of the 16 minute avant/progressive folk suite that forms the record's centerpiece. Richard Youngs' progressive rock project Ilk provided the impetus for the band to make a "Prog Album" (which was the working title) so they started with the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink opus "The Jonah". It was the first track recorded for this album during a two week burst of industry and creativity when the band locked themselves away in Mullingar. David's imagery for the first section was partially inspired by the Vin Diesel film Pitch Black and it takes flight in all kinds of different dream directions from there. Running the gamut from delicate acoustic guitar to Sunn 0))) style doom metal and back again, it's an extraordinary feat of the imagination.

With a sound like expiring infant suns weeping for worlds they'll never warm, "The Jonah" should appeal to lovers of the likes of Espers, Black Forest/Black Sea, Sharron Kraus, and Nick Castro, as well as darker matter like Current 93 and Sol Invictus.

microphones in the trees: the shore that fears the sea