"Mahakali", a vortex of audio-fire of brilliant magnitude an
J. Wagner | west coast usa | 12/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
it is with great joy that i am able to tell you about the new Jarboe release, "Mahakali". i will attempt to viscerally communicate what i perceive since putting the CD in the player.
the opening bars of "Mahakali, of terrifying countenance" grabbed me by the throat, literally. it grabbed me by the throat and as the vocals begin i am surrounded by tentacles that just move through me, pulsating through my chest as i perceive the matrix of sound, it's a vortex of penetrating quality that Jarboe has musically dished-up. this is a conjure of the First Order.
and it doesn't stop. the embrace changes, from flesh to fire, to liquid, to steel, from broken glass to burning coals that never burn the feet but leave them black instead. "Mahakali" is a tapestry that just pulls, in this case, my very soul into pieces. happily, i am destroyed. happily, i see my body disassemble, and i lay on the bed of fire, autopsied...but the meat is fresh and the connections between the pieces of living flesh remain. fire only feeds fire!
we move through Jarboes' musical and extraordinarily spiritual, and passionate willingness to lay herself open to these forces that she is manifesting. there is so much power here. it may seem like hyperbole, but hyperbole is not applicable here. this is a masterwork of timeless wonder and primal glory that will confound and delight and captivate your body, mind, and soul. but you have to lay yourself open, as Jarboe has.
we are so fortunate to have Her here. this new work is not only a 'personal best', instead we have a landmark recording, a sonic record of spiritual posession, submission, destruction and release, ultimately rebirth and redemption are the outcome. the theme of redemption permeates the sounds of apparent destruction, and that offers solace to the listener as Jarboe destroys her own voice and crucifies any idea that you may have had about Jarboe prior to hearing this record. but those who know this wonderful performers' work are not surprised by this. most of her listeners will find this to be an extremely gratifying listen, and for those who are unfamiliar, an entire world awaits you within this performer's ouvre. this is a great place to start, of course, and Amazon recommends purchasing it with "J2" [with Justin K. Broadrick of "Jesu" and "Godflesh" and countless other musical endeavors], i would say 'go for it!', buy the package of disks if you don't have "J2" already...the "J2" release is very strong and i have been enjoying it for several months now.
but this "Mahakali"...it's nothing short of amazing. thanks to the Living Jarboe, an Order of Protection in Her Honour.
[thank you for reading my review. and don't forget to visit www.thelivingjarboe.com for killer merch...we're talking top-notch swag here! i'm a pimpin' ho, for Jarboe!]
Our Lady of Blood and Hollow Screaming
Pieter | Johannesburg | 02/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On the nightmarish but enchanting MahaKali, Jarboe explores a strange sonic multiverse encompassing dodecatonal orchestral tracks, cacophonous metal, acoustic interludes, atmospheric ambience & choral sequences. It is nothing like her equally demanding collaboration with the churncore group Neurosis. The shape-shifting vocals manifest as demonic growl, piercing shriek, demented wail or seductive siren and morph from dreamy torch into a chilling child's voice.
The first track opens with menacing guitar soon joined by hypnotic keyboards; then Jarboe enters with a blood-curdling scream, proceeding with wordless vocalizing throughout, backed by the guitars & synths plus pounding drums. The brief acoustic guitar piece And The Sky Which Was Once Filled With Light appears before The House of Void where atmospheric feedback - including a disturbing high-pitched chime - illumines various angles of the drumming, guitar & keyboard patterns as the song progresses while the chanteuse not only sings - her shrieks resonate frightfully with the constantly evolving instrumental timbres.
The unnerving voice on Transmogrification is that of a little girl & later again wordless vocalizing that creates the impression of massed choirs, ending in distorted spoken words and bark-like panting (which reminds me of Black Eyed Dog by World of Skin). Classical music meets Death Metal on A Sea of Blood and Hollow Screaming in which an arsenal of vocal styles is unleashed, weaving singly or in clusters through intricate patterns of sound & chromatic textures. This outstanding track is a highlight of the album.
Of the two duets, the more remarkable is that with Attila Csihar, the Magyar metal merchant associated with the Norwegian band Mayhem & with Sunn O))))]. His guttural growl and her soprano perform a macabre dance on The Soul Continues against an eerily appealing dissonant orchestral blend containing other-worldly warbling & burbling sound effects. Philip Anselmo, the voice of inter alia Down & Pantera, contributes mostly clipped, emphatic spoken vocals to Overthrown, a repetitive, mantric composition.
On the subdued Mouth of Flames, an atonal modern classical/orchestral structured track, Jarboe first sings in Torch mode and after an instrumental interlude returns with a recital. The chilling Bornless has little girly vocals narrating a (Gnostic?) creation myth against a backdrop of spacey effects, nervous guitars & infusions of choral vocals. Ascend with its complex arrangement and tempo shifts seems to be a detour into Judeo-Christian apocalyptics; despite the frightening feedback squalls, the effect is comforting owing to the redemptive theme of the lyrics and the sound of a human heartbeat at the end.
I prefer the rhythmic & uptempo reprise of Overthrown to the aforementioned duet, and Jarboe's soprano soars per aspera ad astra on the demo version of Mouth of Flames before assuming a tremulous or quivering quality that evokes vulnerability and tenderness. Three sounds dominate Kali Lamentation III: symphonic synths, ominous bass drones & the artist's spoken vocals that conclude the journey unaccompanied on the short narration Empty Mouth.
The album covers an arc of emotion from the terrifying to the sublime and from the unsettling to the reassuring. As startling as Meredith Monk on Dolmen Music or the now-forgotten Yma Sumac, the voice unveils psychic domains that are (almost) universally avoided in expressions of popular culture. This music is not for the average rock fan as its occasional ferocity may unhinge the emotions & exhaust the soul. On MahaKali, Jarboe impressively extends the vocal prowess & striking lyrical imagery evident on her previous solo projects and her work with Swans, Beautiful People Ltd & World of Skin.