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 are 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.Lesen Sie weiter... ›