Aeaea - _Drink the New Wine_
(Twilight Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Take a break from all the hollering and distortion galore and immerse within the sounds of _Drink the New Wine_, as it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful and dismal projects of the year, far removed from metal, rock or anything noisy or conventional out there, in that great cosmos of human creativity.

Aeaea is a joint venture of five women from several countries/continents; there's Kris Force, a singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist who is best known for her participation in the neoclassical / avant-garde San Francisco-based group Amber Asylum; there's Anni Hogan, a known British performer, composer and DJ who has been dwelling in the British gothic / new wave / industrial / post-punk / whatnot scene for a couple of decades now; there's Meredith Yayanos, who is an American singer, violinist and theremin performer who has contributed, as a session musician, to many an avant-garde and rock ensemble with her aforementioned skills; there's Zoe Keating, a Canadian-born cello player and neoclassical composer mostly, who currently resides in the US; and there's Jarboe -- well, everyone knows who Jarboe is (mostly renowned for her participation in and automatically associated with Swans and World of Skin, in addition to being in numerous projects and collaborations, solo or otherwise). Jarboe is, in addition to being a fascinating singer, songwriter and performer, on par with Greek-American phenomenal avantgarde performer Diamanda Galas, if there ever was indeed an equivalent to the latter.

So naturally, this feminine project was dubbed Aeaea, after the mythological / magical dwelling place of Circe, a goddess and a sorceress. On the strange and lush mythical shores of the island of Aeaea, Circe, who had a vast knowledge in medicinal herbs and poisonous potions, had resided alongside nymphs and other strange creatures, so the legend tells.

Being an inspiration for the five female musicians, Circe and her magickal preoccupation find their way into the themes and compositions of Aeaea, the band. It's lush, seductive and mysterious a recording, filled with passion, lust and sonic erotica, brimming with larger-than-life tunes of solace, brooding darkness and solitude, written and performed by larger-than-life female figures. The music is always exotic, sensual -- even carnal -- but also contemplative, almost meditative; the textures are rich and enigmatic and there is wonder and magic in abundance here.

The fourteen tracks of the album quite vary from one another, due to the fact each track has been written and performed by a slightly different combination of musicians. No track has been composed or performed by the full quintet; each track is a different, standalone creation; some tracks were recorded by a couple of the women, some by three and some by four, every song has been treated by a different line-up, hence the slight difference in the end products. There are tracks that are more classically-inclined, whereas others are more tribal; some have been loaded with electronica, while others more vocal-driven and sound almost like a capela songs with either coherent lyrics or simply haunting chants and hums.

This eclectic project is interesting for its various dimensions and sound aesthetics; the tracks can vary from traditional folk campfire songs to expressions of pure avantgarde, sans that boring dark ambient approach where nothing really happens. On the contrary, _Drink the New Wine_ is full with ideas -- some are fully realized and some leave something to be desired, but it is always an intriguing listening experience. You'd notice the amazing bowed string instruments, and whenever those appear they add a depth and darkness so deep, it will grab you by the throat.

Enigmatic at all times and eventually a recording that's ahead of its time, the estranged and unfamiliar (but always elegant) soundscapes these five ladies have coalesced into this album result in a strong and unique an experience one only seldom encounters. This album is impressive any way you look at it: from cinematic excursions to semi-operatic, angelic and sublime lamentations; from cold electronica and strange computer-generated effects to contemporary classical music, this recording showcases an ethereal and imaginative world of charm, earthly delights alongside transcendence, and mystery, residing in the collective conscious of these five incredibly talented ladies whose music is a mere manifestation of the many mysteries human females possess.

The artwork is worth mentioning too; "Circe and a sounder of pigs" as it is called, is a terrific homage to Circe the Goddess, painted by the talented hands of Kris Force (who is not only a fine musician but apparently also a very good painter). This cover art alone will make you want to open the gates of this musical enigma and study its treasures and secrets thoroughly. You won't be disappointed, so go ahead and drink this new wine; drink it willingly and be intoxicated by its charms.

"I am the sea, I am an ocean of life, Come to me..."


(article published 13/11/2014)

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