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imgI go way back with this group, having been a fan since their very first release.  I remember them as the first release on the very small Metropolis Records label back then.  I picked up Teignmouth during these early years and immediately fell in love with it.  I listened to it over and over again and continue to listen to it very often today.  They released two more albums with Metropolis and then most knowledge of them was lost until a few years later.  Before this time though, they had released their work on Hyperium Records which started the Heavenly Voices compilation series.  So before 1995 they had already released the three albums that I later picked up in the states released through Metropolis Records.  In fact, the band's history starts in 1990 when four members put this project together under the name Love Is Colder Than DeathHypnobeat picked up the band's releases and starts the Hyperium where they would release their first three works.  The rest is history...

They went on to release other albums, including Atopos which would help define their slight change in direction and sound from a more electronic based goth/ethereal sound to a more classical, mid-eastern and medieval style.  This would also be the introduction for a new female vocalist while Susann took some time off for family.  With their next release Eclipse, they came back with Susann Porter, Maik Hartung, Ralf Jehnert and Sven Mertens.  For this release they collaborated with San Diego Music as a partner record label to get the music distributed.

The sound of this dynamic band has evolved and changed over the years.  The earlier albums are laced with many electronic elements crossed with the awesome ethereal sounds that garnered them fame with the fans of the Heavenly Voices compilations.  As their style has progressed, they have concentrated more on the ethnic mid-eastern elements, medieval and ethereal musical styles for the most part removing many of the electronics and replacing them with various organic instruments and percussion.  It is with their latest album that these styles really stand out, very reminiscent of later Dead Can Dance albums.

With a great history and a bright future, this is a group definitely worth following and picking up everything they have released.  They gave music lovers and fans a chance to pickup on their past works easily with their latest double-disc release titled Time.  This disc spanned their fifteen-year history including selections from five albums, two EPs and a live performance.  A few years later we're presented with yet another brand new release of all new music titled Tempest. Be sure to check them out!

Tempest - Review

I wasn't entirely sure we would be getting any new music from this project after their anthology album Time. But it seems the artists surrounding this group have new creative ideas to share with the worl in the form of another great work. img On this release we have Uli Stornowski, the newest member of the group, playing multiple instruments and drums; Maik Hartung, an original member and founder of the band continues to compose and play various exotic instruments; Anja Herrmann lends her voice, lyrics and compositions to the album, being a member since 2003; and finally we have Ralf Jehnert, another long-time member of the band since 1995, lending his deep vocals, compositions and lyrics to another masterpiece. The album comes in a standard card-board digipack with insert and the album presented with a dozen tracks.

As with their previous two albums, the overall direction of the music continues to lean towards the mid-eastern-influenced tribal sounds with some dynamic and exotic instruments and styles. It kicks off with a bombastic symphonic approach to the introductory piece "The Tempest", building up and setting the stage for the spellbinding music to come. While the exotic sounds with the various tribal and ritualistic percussion and various traditional elements dominate the music, some modern touches help to diffuse it a bit and make the music a bit more accessible to the band's traditional, foundational fans of ethereal, heavenly voices music.

Choosing favorites on this album is difficult and depends more on the listener's overall mood or taste in music as opposed to any lack of talent or composition from the artists. The album flows well from piece to piece and so it's great to listen to it from start to finish as a whole. As I have listened to it several times, a few pieces stand out a little bit more to me as favorites based on my love of the underlying gothic element mixed with various traditional ethnic styles. "Sinfonia Of The Moon" stands out as a piece that is dripping with emotion and laced with the hypnotic and entrancing female vocals, so even though I may not understand the lyrics, the overall mood is captivating. In a very different way, almost in a western-folk tradition "Sundance" is another piece that really stood out with an excellent mix of this newer folk style with traditional percussion and other similar elements. Following immediately after is a very simple piece that builds more on classical instruments and synthesized strings than the dominating tribal percussion on most of the rest of the album, while Ralf portrays the lyrics through his smooth vocals. Ralf combines his vocal talents along with a modern folk composition laced with bombastic symphonic structures and acoustic guitar on "World In Motion" for another stellar piece that breaks the mold of the standard set for this album, helping to create a dynamic work with the added variety. Anja really shines on a couple of other pieces as well, however she really brings it home with the short finale to the album "Il Lamento Di Cotopaxi". As the title would imply, this lament pierces to the very soul of the listener as the vocals combined with the beautiful, classic song structure and instruments for a great ending to the album.

With that the album comes to a close and so does our review. Simply put, if you've enjoyed the band's latest works, this is definitely a great addition to any collection. For those new to the group, but familiar with such greats as Dead Can Dance, then you'll love this album, so don't hesitate to pick it up!

Rating: 4.5/5

Time - Review

Wow! I don't even know where to start with this release it's packed so full of great stuff.  As a long-time fan of this band, I find this album as a perfect representation of the wonderful talent and shows how well this band has done from their very early works to their latest masterpieces. img The album spans their music released between the years 1991 with Wild World and Teignmouth through Eclipse released in 2003.  Presented as a double-disc release there is plenty of music for anyone that has ever been a fan of this group.

The track listing and order follows the history of the band with tracks "Wild World" and "Love and Solitude" from their first EP Wild World and includes one of my all-time favorite tracks "For one Ludwig F." from Teignmouth.  These earlier tracks are presented more with synthesizers and electronics and would often include some excellent danceable beats through heavy percussion.  Some tracks were so simple, but so great, while others were complex arrangements and almost delving into the experimental such as "Very Ill" that I'll always remember as such a haunting piece in those earlier years.

As this first disc moves one we get into the tracks that helped them to fit so well on the Heavenly Voices compilations from Mental Traveller and Oxeia.  The selections presented on this disc are mostly the beautiful ethereal pieces, including those with male and female vocals.  This shows their gradual shift into a more organic sound, using more authentic instruments and less electronics and often presenting traditional pieces in a classical fashion.  But these albums still have some great electronic pieces that early fans can really enjoy, luckily many of these were included on this disc such as the moving "A Chain", "An Invite, to Eternity" and "November Morning" which all stand out as long-time favorites.

That wraps up the first disc with a total of nineteen excellent pieces.  With the second disc there is an obvious shift in style as we are presented with themes from Atopos and Eclipse.  I do admit that I was disappointed they didn't included one of my favorites "Till the End" from this latter work, but also realize that it's style doesn't exactly mix well with all of the dreamy pieces that are on this second disc.

Even for die-hard fans this album has something interesting that has most likely not been heard before.  In my case, even though I have heard many selections from Atopos I had never picked up the album, even though I had the previous three works and their latest release Eclipse.  Even with this broad catalog I was happy to hear "Love and Solitude" as a new piece, steeped in the older electronic style that I really grew to love with this group.  Also, "Chamber" is another piece I wasn't familiar with and the presentation of their live track "Aus Meines Herzens Grunde" from the B.A.C.H. Festival in 2003.

So there you have it, this is a great disc for any fan.  It's a perfect way to pick up selections from their back catalog, or a way to add a few select rare pieces to your music library.  Either way, it's a great album to pick up, hand-numbered and limited to 1000 copies, don't miss it!

Rating: 5/5

Eclipse - Review

With this release we delve deeper into the ethnic cultures and instruments from a foreign land.  Building on what they started so many years, the music continues to progress and evolve for a solid release each time.  imgWith Susan back on vocals, everything was quite recognizable as a long-time fan.

The excellent music is packed through out the entire release.  From the powerful and moving "Wananbi" to the soft and subtle "Sweet Mercy".  The former being a nice intro to these ethnic sounds and the latter being a beautiful piece of ambient soundscapes.  The listener drifts from one land to another through the awesome layered percussion and various guitars, shakers and other instruments.

Of course you can't have this type of beautiful music without excellent vocals to go with it.  There is a certain pattern of male and female vocals from song to song.  The divinely written and performed "Song of Faith" brings out some of the best of both worlds.  "Holy Thursday" reminds me of some of the earlier works from Oxeia or Mental Traveller with Susann's beautiful vocals cutting through the dynamic music.

This album has a certain treat of neo-folk music that I really enjoy.  "Till the End" is my favorite track on this album with a great beat, catchy lyrics and a flare similar to some of the new goth-a-billy music that has been popping up around the scene.  This track will long be a favorite of mine.  Another that stands out along this same style is "Ideals and Pains" that portrays a true element of neo-folk music.

This is a great album with many dynamics and great treats.  The music is excellent, the production is perfect and you really can't ask for much more from them.  They have stayed true to themselves and continue to build on a great career.

Rating: 4.5/5

Website: www.lictd.com
Label: In Deyagora Music

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