1 Twilight 3:12
2 Aurora 4:25
3 Nymphea (Water Lilies) 2:58
4 Rainbow Man 3:57
5 Night's Shadow 2:55
6 Under the Moon 3:00
7 Gray Sky 5:38
8 Maker of Dreams 3:32
9 Midnight 2:58
10 Before Dawn 5:31
Spotted Peccary | SMP-0504 (CD 38:07) ***½
(Ambient, tribal and folk ambient)
Well it happens to me, from time to time, to get out of my comfort zone and listen something else than pure EM. Like hard-rock (remember Zep or Purple?) or Prog! But New Age? Nanh...It's really not my cup of tea! Except that the productions of the American label Spotted Peccary are so well done, the sound is so much detailed that I had to try an ear. Especially that the criticisms applauded this “Under The Moon”, written and recorded by Deborah Martin in 1995. To celebrate a 20th anniversary the American label gives to it a new breath, a new skin, with a completely remastered edition. Did I like? Yes! I found that there was a medium ground between the so called New Age approaches, the spectral melodies and the ambient structures which are downright attractive, if not intrusive. In fact I discovered a beautiful album, a surprisingly musical album where the acoustic of the guitars and the flutes, as well as their charms, blend admirably well into the meditative atmospheres sculpted in the sobriety of the synths and of the piano of Deborah Martin.
"Twilight" leads us slowly towards the dark zones of “Under The Moon” with a wall of hollow winds which grows like waves of threatening murmurs through the songs of the flutes. We are in the field of dark ambient where the synths weave a mosaic of orchestrations as so dark as poignant which float as these red clouds which color the night of an approach as romantic as sibylline. These intense arrangements will make duel with the fragility of the meditative flutes, the scattered harmonies of the quiet guitars and the Amerindian ambiences which overfly the charms, because there are, of “Under The Moon”. It's with "Aurora" that we enter in the kind of New Age, ambient and tribal. The track pulls these fluty harmonies in the caresses of Tony Levin's very enveloping, enticing bass. The guitar here is more present and sculpts a soft ambient ballad where a flute is covering of its dark charms. I'm guessing you now! Remove these wings of gulls which fill your eyebrows! And let yourself be absorb by all the tenderness of this Deborah Martin's unique work. The music and the arrangements are of a delicacy that will make your emotions going upside down. The piano of "Nymphea (Water Lilies)" is so soft that it swallows us of its melancholy. Everything is there! The clouds of mists and the subdued choirs which make symbiosis into ethereal elements. Beautiful? No! Seductive and meditative, just as these tears of guitar which pour in the poignant orchestrations of "Rainbow Man". This is like listening White Bird from It's a Beautiful Day played with an even more seraphic musical approach. The more we move forward and the more we are seduced. We forget the music kind that we listen to so much it's beautiful. "Night's Shadow" is as much enigmatic as "Twilight" whereas the ballad which decorates the title-track is going to nail you to your emotions. Intense and penetrating! "Gray Sky" leads us in the secrets of the incantations of the Peoples of the First Nations. The voice of Edgar Perry is tinted with mysticism. Just like the ambiences which are flavored by shamanic percussions, decorated with winds which hoot like a pack of wolf cubs and with murmurs of spectres. The synth lines are floating like abstract witnesses of this incantation, leaving the charms of the mesmerizing flute flooded our thoughts along with the soft penetrating voice of Deborah Martin. This is by far the track which has the most immediate impact in “Under The Moon”. "Maker of Dreams" stays in the same crenel of Amerindian tribal music. The rhythm is steadier, although rather sedative, with tom-toms which sculpt a dance of which the shape follows the lasciviousness of flutes and orchestrations. There is a touch of Middle East here. "Midnight" has one's eye a little bit on the moods of "Twilight", but with a clearly less dark vibe and a more ethereal approach. The orchestrations are still all the wealth of this very beautiful moment of ambiences. On this track and all over the album. That makes a very filmic music where the hero watches the desert shying away under his eyes. "Before Dawn" ends this fascinating sonic odyssey in the heart of the Amerindian atmospheres with a delicate synth which sculpts a fusion of astral and sinister waves. A blend which undulates as caresses over the very solitary nomad of David Stile's classical guitar. It's a very meditative ambient phase which balances marvelously the approaches a little bit New Age of an album which bewitches, as soon as we free our ears of the easy prejudice against the New Age term.
Needs to pay attention with the New Age term! It is so much used to all sauces, to all these styles that we just can't put an etiquette on and which escape the radars of the labeling of the kinds. Soothing, poetic and dark “Under The Moon” is as much a purely New Age album as Led Zeppelin III is one of pure folk. Certainly, there are melodies. But the ambiences and the massive ethereal orchestrations inject a dreamlike fluid which sticks so much on the feelings, that we can follow the trajectory of the music through our imagination. I was quite surprised that I ended up to enjoyed it. There are pretty good moments here. And we have to admit that Deborah Martin's style is rather unique that it can be disturbing. But in a right way.
Sylvain Lupari (May 1st, 2015)
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