Vitus Dance

Vitus Dance  
by Gaia Consort
Suddenly Naked Arts Collective, 2007

 

Sometimes, you just have to dance. Despite fear-mongers on each TV screen, Life’s rich and wondrous spell transcends human commotion. This sentiment drives Vitus Dance, and drives it hard. Few albums I’ve heard this year rock as Dance.

I’ve had mixed feelings about the band’s music before now; earlier releases hammered sociopolitical harangues at the expense of artistry.

That flaw disappears on Vitus Dance. Though several cuts ― especially “Dirty Little Secret” and “All We’ve Got” ― contain political themes, those songs transcend their topical limitations. Expansive arrangements allow each song on the album to breathe, and the musicians follow that flow to glory. Although Dance’s production sounds a bit thin in places (particularly the electric guitar, which could be beefier), there’s a rich sophistication and outright joy to the music that makes this album sing.

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If Twilight Has A Voice

If Twilight Has A Voice
The Music of Wendy Rule
Interview by Phil Brucato

To hear her sing is to move from the comfortable world of electric light and synthetic darkness into someplace more primal. There’s an implacable quality to that voice — a wilderness where nurture and terror combine. Wendy’s art goes beyond the trite pretenses of Goth or Folkishness. Her voice can shift from maiden to crone in a single note, and although the emotional texture of her work seems melancholy, it’s too rich to be so narrowly defined.

An old soul in a trickster’s guise, Wendy hails from Melbourne, Australia. For the last decade, however, the world has been her home. Touring with her brand of ritual cabaret theatre, Wendy has walked faerie paths outside Yorkshire, watched sunrises in Berlin, and breathed the ashes of post-9/11 New York. Still, it’s wilderness that inspires her most deeply. She might draw influences from smoky jazz clubs and wild techno raves, but if you want to find the true source of her artistry, just walk along a woodland river and watch the sun go down.

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The Seasons Unfold

The Seasons Unfold
by Tor Lundvall
Strange Fortune, 2007

A perennial favorite on NPR’s “Echoes” and “Hearts of Space” radio programs, electronic musician Tor Lundvall’s evocative “ghost ambient” has been steadily growing in popularity in the music underground and in the indie press. Lundvall is credited with producing some of the most accessible electronica out there, but with an evocative, mysterious quality that saves it from degenerating into “aimless chill out.” Instead, Lundvall masters each track to create an atmospheric soundscape that is mesmerizing and textural, a cut deeper than most content-free ambient.

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Cheat the Devil

Cheat the Devil
Young Werewolfs
Young Werewolf Records, 2008

Cheat the Devil, the latest from Philadelphia’s Young Werewolves, is Vincent Price in a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. No, scratch that. It’s Vincent Price driving down Skid Row in a stolen car with Boris Karloff riding shotgun and Hunter S. Thompson in the backseat huffing ether with bikini-wearing Siamese triplets. It’s got the campy good fun you’ve come to associate with Psychobilly and Deathrock, combined with a bracing punk edge.

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Shadow of the Raven

Shadow of the Raven
Nox Arcana, 2007

Where would Goths be without Edgar Allen Poe? America’s doomed dark poet surged Old World gloom toward the mind-sick horrors of a dawning modern age. Poe’s ripe terrors have inspired artists, filmmakers, musicians, and absinthe-swilling game designers. It’s no surprise, then, that RPG soundtrack artists Nox Arcana have based this album off his work. And it’s also no surprise that — despite deliciously Goth intentions — they fall far short of Poe.

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Meditation on the 4 Elements

Meditation on the 4 Elements
Wendy Rule, 2008

Wendy Rule’s voice is enchanting, a smoky drift from the shadows of consciousness. That voice can salvage lyrics that might sound ridiculous otherwise, as they did on her 2005 collaboration with Gary Stadler, Deep Within a Faerie Forest. On Wendy’s newest album, Meditations on the 4 Elements, it sweeps across dark soundscapes of droning synthesizers. As its title suggests, this album is more guided meditation than musical endeavor. While this sort of thing isn’t my cup of tea, that hypnotic voice kept me listening.

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