Folklore of the Moon Part 2
Jeff Penczak takes an extended look at the three latest volumes on Hand/Eye's impressive and sprawling new Folklore of the Moon series of CD-Rs, dedicated to the old names of the full moons. The idea originated with Hand/Eye figurehead, Timothy Renner (aka Timothy, Revelator) and has proven to be one of the most exciting series of releases of 2005.
The fifth volume of Timothy Renner’s “Folklore of the Moon” CD-EP series comes to us courtesy Ben Carr, aka Theory of Abstract Light. Following the short introductory table setter, “Pass Out,” the epic, 11-minute “Balance” is a sparse, yet haunting, heavily-treated guitar solo. Carr’s multi-layered, echoed guitar lines suggests he spent a lot of time with Roy Montgomery and Vini Reilly’s back catalogues and “Balance” feels like a structured improv as it inquisitively sneaks through back alleys, always curious about what may lie ahead around the next bend. Like following a tour guide who’s not quite sure where he’s going, Carr leads us on an adventurous journey and, as with many mystical paths, it’s the journey rather than the destination that intrigues and such is the case with this marvelous track.
Carr also records with Charles Harrold as 5ive and their anarchic, white-noise combination of guitar and drums forms the musical skeleton upon which Cokedealer (Mark Schleicher) recites a paranoid, psychotic, shaggy dog tale about the people who live with him “Under the House.” It’s avant garde, experimental, and, at times, unintelligible and unlistenable and completely out of context with the ambient tracks that precede it. Most listeners will probably bail about halfway through Schleicher’s rambling rant, but “Balance” is so powerful that I’m giving the release a marginal recommendation.
The Floating World is Canadian flautist Amanda Votta, whom some may recognize from her work on Harvest Rain’s “Night Chorus” release, and these five tracks are presented as a continuously streaming suite for electronically enhanced flute. The eerie opener “The Dreamless Vigil” effortlessly blends into “Lilac,” which carries Votta’s heavily treated flute around the room like a displaced spirit desperately seeking solace in the afterlife. The leitmotiv continues in “Anemone” as Votta creates an almost religious aura. A brief respite precedes “Orchid” wherein Votta’s shrill flutework envelops the listener with a pastoral sense of serenity. Her fluttering notes are like the smoke rings from a flickering candle gently wafting heavenward until closer “River of Flowers” bends the melody into a headswirling, disorienting climax. Haunting, ethereal and saintly, this is religious music for the masses and one of the highlights of the Folklore series.
The latest entry in the series, “Black Ship Time” is actually just a 5-minute CD single of a song called “Vauvauvau” from a folky trio of minstrels hiding behind pseudonyms. (An internet search will reveal their identities, but I want to review this blind – or should that be deaf? – to avoid being unduly influenced by the knowledge of who the participants are.) Over San Teeny’s noisy electronic mix, Coptic Cat relates the mysterious tale of “Vauvauvau” in a spoken word ritual which, after several listens is still rather impenetrable. Kudos to the pleasant, acoustic guitar backing from Benja Minh, but hopefully future entries will return to the more economically desirable EP format. Fans of wyrdfolk and the World Serpent imprint in general and neo-pagan folkers like In Gowan Ring and series producer Timothy Renner’s own Stone Breath releases will be pleased by the not-unpleasant, laidback vibe and the ever-increasing excitement with which Cat spins his tale, just be aware that this is not a full EP.
-- Jeff Penczak (31 October, 2005)