Gone But Not Forgotten
Wendy C. Darling | Atlanta, GA United States | 03/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though they're no longer together, The Changelings have left behind some truly wonderful albums and EPs, including their self-titled debut disc, originally issued in 1995 and re-released by Middle Pillar in 2003. Digitally re-mastered with brand-new digipak artwork artwork and lyrics, The Changelings offers the band at their best.
The listener knows from the get-go, with the beautiful opening tones of the short opening track "Pomegranate," that The Changelings are not into rock and roll, heavy metal, overtly electronic or industrial sounds commonly embraced by many other goth groups. Instead, they are masters of ethereal sounds, Baroque instrumentation and passionate lyrics of pure poetry.
"Season of Mist," the album's second track, is the first full-length song and gives a representative taste of all the band has to offer: the poignant melodies of Paul Mercer's violin, the swirling sounds of something like a glass organ, percussion like rushing, eager footsteps, and Regeana Morris' haunted, expressive voice, full of longing.
The Changelings' gothic leaning come out fully in the lyrics of "Earthquake at Versailles," which depict a scene of morbid decay in a once beautiful setting:
A sea of marble, wood
Disintegrating showers falling
Gargoyle heads and ornaments
Of gold and lead
"Earthquake" revels in Baroque instrumentation, featuring not only violin but harpsichord. Morris' voice speeds and spirals through the sonic landscape and one can picture her standing amidst the ruins. (At this point, one thing I must note about Morris is that while her vocals are beautiful, on many songs, only wisps of it are readily understandable, at least without a look at the printed lyrics. The lyrics often come out as tones more than words, and some of the melody lines require some odd rhythms which make phrases and meaning incomprehensible.)
With the next track, "Song of the Sephardim," The Changelings offer the first of several exotic, Middle Eastern sounding tracks on the album. Sung in Hebrew, the song is slow, with stretched-out, gliding vocals and a quiet, steady beat behind it, occasionally mingled with lightly plucked strings and the drone of a sitar. Morris weaves a melody in a mist of sound.
The next two songs also fall into the exotic category, featuring Indian instruments like the sitar and tabla. "Pranam" is a short, purely instrumental track, while "Into the Divide" has a beautiful vocal line but no discernable lyrics (nor any printed in the booklet). The latter track, especially in its lack of lyrics, is heavily reminiscent of Dead Can Dance. (Apparently Lisa Gerrard isn't the only singer who can yodel beautifully for a considerable length of time without anybody quite noticing she's not using any words but simply dramatically moaning and wailing.) "Incantation" continues in this vein vocally, but in this track the instrumentation is dark and brooding, with the deep sound of a cello running under like a current.
With "Solitude," the album perks up a bit, with a surging, hopeful instrumental backing and bright, determined vocals (and lyrics to match, though you have to read the lyrics on the digipak to understand them).
Dreams will fade
And stars will not shine
Like a stone in bitter wind
Here I stand alone
One of my favorite tracks is "Awakening," which features several intensely gothic sounds -- organ and violin -- as well as scathing (if wordless) vocals. To me it sounds like a song of utter woe, but at the same time like the soundtrack to an exotic travelogue, through rocky canyons, arid deserts, high mountaintops. Perhaps the travels of an unhappy woman?
"Seraphim" is another purely instrumental and wordlessly vocalized track, lush and dreamlike. As with many of the tracks on the album, I've found this song excellent for use in meditations and visualization work. Instead of forcing a literal story or heavy instrumentals on you, the music allows you to form your own meanings and landscapes.
"11:59 PM October 30" is a super-sedate Halloween song which would almost be a joke except it's quite well done. In the song, replete with wordless sighs, slithering things and goblins seem to be gathering in the night. The musical setting is once again Baroque, with violin and harpsichord, a grotesque slow dance.
The album's final track, "Sunday Morning," is a creative cover of the Velvet Underground song. Although I've never heard the original track, I'm sure it was quite different from what The Changelings have produced. Also notable, the vocals are the most clearly understandable on the entire album, leading me to think the slurred vocals elsewhere are purely a result of the style.
As a final treat, Paul Mercer pipes in with a lengthy violin solo, tacked on to the very end of the "final" track. Don't turn off the stereo too soon, because it's not something you want to miss.
The Changelings is a beautiful, relaxing album that conjures emotions and visions, just like the rest of their work. Along with works like Astronomica and Terra Firma, the album does justice to a band that may be gone, but will not be forgotten."
Magnificent ... Original ... Haunting ...
Clarissa | Ontario, California | 03/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Changelings' self-titled re-release of their debut album, which consists of new artwork and remastered sound production, opens with an eerie yet beautiful mood that's akin to the "Interview With The Vampire" soundtrack; however, the musical aspects soon veer in a different direction. It's hard to categorize The Changelings for the female vocalist, Regeana Morris, brings a dark element to the band but they're not your standard Goth group. Sure, there are long sessions of somber melancholy with slow, rhythmic beats but they don't just use the conventional drum, guitar and synth flourishes. In addition to those they include a vast array of other, untraditional instruments, such as violins, violas, percussion, and even a sitar to give the melodies an exotic Middle Eastern feel that's really quite seductive.I myself prefer 'Astronomica' over this but both of these albums are definitely worth buying as The Changelings' are brilliant musicians."