Not only have I spent the past month listening
almost exclusively to collaborations but I have also drawn deeply
from the Italian Amplexus label and it's stable of somewhat
unknown or obscure sub-labels and artists, all of which have been
welcome additions to the library. As an interesting aside many
of the release on Amplexus are limited editions, which utilize
unique packaging concepts, which adds greatly to the allure and
mystique for collectors. Not to mention the conversation value
of the gorgeous artwork that adorns the slip covers and are equally
at home residing on shelves, coffee tables or display stands.
Let us begin with something drawn from the inside of the special
cover booklet wrapped around the plastic protection sleeve containing
the disc. "Stormy winds will fight against each other, and
their Sound will reach God's ear" - Merlin. "In
Celtic mythology Wouivres the Divine Spirit: like a snake crawling
along the ground, the Wouivre runs deep beneath the earth, bringing
Life and Fertility. There are places where this hidden and
sacred Stream reaches the surface, creating a link between Sky and
Earth: on such a place the Templar Knights built the Cathedral of
Chartres." A positively enthralling, heady, concept for
sacred reverie through headphone listening beckoned at my first
reading of these lines. This is where the visions take their
shape and the journey begins.
"Nemeton - The Celestial Clearing" is a 0:25
second embarkation piece that opens an inner window to a dimension of
startling depth and an immense, all encompassing, voluminous
soundscape. The size of the soundstage presented by this piece
is alarmingly large and unsettlingly real. This first glimpse of the
stage set by the minds eye is incredibly adroit in presenting the
spatial concept for what is to follow and hopefully what will come to
pass from within the depths of Wouivre.
"Llyr - The Dark Stream" is O÷phoi's
solo homage to, and naming of the Wouivre, employing water, Tibetan
singing bowls, stones, gongs, and birds. "Llyr"
is a definitive study of the world of spacious reverb tails and the
endlessly expanding notion of liquidity in sound. Employing
dark suggestion "Llyr" is nevertheless a
relaxing piece in the purest sense. Readily inducing the
contemplation of the myths and mystery that the Earth's elements
employ to surround and entertain the inquisitive soul.
Klaus Wiese enters the mix with an upright cello, a bowchime
and the monochord as his chosen voice for "Taran - The Thunder".
A third voice, that of Rick Rummler, engages the periphery of the
soundscape on the bowchime while O÷phoi weaves a spell on
electronics, a flute, looping and processing. An extremely
organic sounding track that had me casting sidelong glances about the
room searching for cues to the impending release of the anticipated
peal of thunder. The anticipation was much akin to that which
accompanies the sensory overload of a soundtrack that underpins the
moment when you as the listener would rather not have anyone open
that door or walk in to the open expanse of the waiting glen.
And thus enters the clangorous realm of "Llia'g - The Wizard".
A shorter piece in the context of the other tracks but one which is
packed with potent visions of being in the presence of one that
commands you maintain an unerring eye and keep a watchful vigil lest
you be swept away following your bewitched grasp of reality.
Track four attempts to focus light on the face of darkness but only
magnifies the mysteries cloaked in the unknown by revealing deeper
recesses of blackness. "Llia'g" employs
the same instrumentation and artists as the previous track minus the
monochord yet morphs their sonic identity enough to present a dynamic
realm of unearthly voicing.
"Dheoog Bhair - Hallucinations" retains the
undercurrent of tension introduced through "Llia'g"
with an added dimension of what can only be described as an altered
state. Reminiscent of the metallic yet gauze swathed
manipulations of sound created by the fever induced hallucinations
from the Hong Kong Flu, which I contracted in my youth during an East
Coast vacation. The surreal quality created adds another level
of tension that is at the same time relaxing and meditative, opening
and closing alternative paths to understanding, and also engages ones
thoughts in a confusing yet appealing interruption and re-direction
of the stream of conscious thought.
"Guth Ather - Invocation" is exactly as the
title states. An 18:39 epic wherein I was presented with the
possibility of direct contact with, and the inner peace attainable
through, the entity of the Divine Spirit.
The closing concept of "Wouivre" is "Guth
Ire - The Primordial Harp", also a dedication to O÷phoi's
father who is now floating in the "Wouivre".
Pastoral and ethereal in its nature "Guth Ire"
conjured a corporeal understanding of that which lies within the
dimensional planes one usually only postulate's the existence
thereof. A voyage beyond yet deep within oneself that was as
engaging as it was entertaining. "Wouivre"
was an outstanding ride that I plan on returning to again and again.
Look not over one's shoulder nor listen to what you cannot hear
unless you are ready to reconcile that it quite possibly may be
yourself that you encounter within the "Wouivre".
Reviewed by BEAR 11/11/2001
Four and one Half Bear Paws highly recommended.