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World Between Worlds
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2002
Wendy Rule has done it again. Where "Zero" was a diverse collection of songs based on each card of the Major Arcana in Tarot and her second album "Deity" was a more gothic presentation of the different aspects of the Goddess, here she plunges head on into a concept album proper. "World Between Worlds" is a musical journey through the Underworld, into our shadow selves on a dark voyage of discovery before re-emerging back into the light of day at the end.
Happily, this album sorts out what were the weak points of "Deity" - namely, the heavier more standardised use of synthesiser, with sounds which occasionally shifted into the distracting, such as on "Artemis" where she threw in an Addams family style organ sound on the verses. Thank goodness there is none of that here. It is mostly an album moving on creating an atmosphere of darkness and the stillness in that darkness, so there is a lot of guitar & piano with a more acoustic feel. The violins and cello we've also come to expect from Wendy are also there. The drumming is subtle and the synth work doesn't jar or shock but accurately completes the atmosphere of mystery.
The opening track is steady, to a drumbeat and an echoing speaking Wendy outlining the mysteries of the festival of Samhain (Halloween). The question is asked about how to cross into the Otherworld when the veils between the two are thin. This track then moves into "The Call" a very slow waltz on guitar as night falls and draws the searching soul in. This is so chant-like it is hypnotic and positively hummable. "Animus" is the first song proper and details meeting with one's shadow side. The beauty of choosing a more acoustic arrangement really comes home in this song. "Singing To The Bones" returns us to solo voice and solo guitar as she sings very gently and slowly to the owner of the bones - are they hers, someone else's, or both I wonder ?
"Three Colours" begins with Wendy singing to a shamanic drumbeat, soon joined by piano and guitar and charts the sorrows of love. "Hail To The Moon" - what an absolute joy, this is the track pagans and witches alike have been waiting for, a truly authentic priestess-style call to the moon that is not cliched or twee. It is a capella, draped in echo, perfectly conjuring the atmosphere of deep night, this rivals the best of gregorian chants in terms of singing skill and contains so much genuine passion that the album is worth the cost for this track alone. The only track that could follow something like that would have to be the title track, and so it does. "World Between Worlds" brings the instruments back in steady reverence for Wendy's declaration of love for the dark world and the suffering at being parted from it by the sunrise. "Under The Willow" is based around steady piano chords and low cello notes, lending it the feel of late-night singing in a smoky bar somewhere. The song, of course, speaks of the need to confront our own fears and darker emotions. If you thought you couldn't drop lower into the dark spaces of your soul, prepare for "Slow Down". Almost spooky, with chord changes reminiscent of the best her previous albums offer and the occasional "off"-notes of the high piano range. Beautiful melody of memories in this study of faith.
"Evolve" repeats the chant of "Dissolve" and develops it further lyrically with a different synth arrangement. This shifts the album into a new change and position into "Entropy". This song really has the fullness of a single and contains all instruments in probably the most lush arrangements heard on this album. It asks many questions about how we may or may not move through our suffering and what we may or may not gain through it. This leads, unsurprisingly to the well-read pagan, "Innana" which lyrically is one of the most bare songs, paring itself back to its bones (pun intended). The addition of a remarkably subtle djembe into the guitar and low synth drone really evoke the quiet Middle-Eastern origin of a slowly walking Goddess. This would also make a superb chant (for those of you who like your rituals with a bit of chant !)
As Inanna is possibly the most well-known archetype of the Underworld journey, the only way really to go from here is up, which Wendy does. The final song "Creatures of a Day" is like the coming of a dawn. We move away from the steady chords, the low notes, into a simply picked guitar and some gentle piano. The cello works long notes to back up her vocals at times and at others works a sweet counterpoint, with violin occuring on this track too. It affirms our need for daylight and that the only constant in life is change.
I really can't recommend this extraordinary album enough. It is real night-time listening and the thought and skill that has gone into it shines like a light in that darkness. I look forward to her next album.
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