Ars Nova — Seventh Hell
(Musea FGBG4831AR, 2009, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2010-07-01
The opener “Seventh Hell” presents twelve minutes of intensely convoluted frantic bombast, busy and chaotic at every melodic intersection, though sensibly arranged; in short – exactly what one might expect from Ars Nova, very much in the vein of Italian horror movie soundtrack masters Goblin, though ratcheted up in complexity and presented with a more current sound. For those who haven’t kept up with Ars Nova over their last few releases, they are a quartet now, the band’s keyboard-and-drums heavy approach rounded out with bass and lead guitar, as well as several guests who join in on additional guitars, bass, and vocals on a few cuts. Still in command is keyboardist and chief composer Keiko Kumagai, the remainder of the band being all new faces since I last saw them in Baja around six years ago. Those vocals make their first appearance on the second track “La Venus Endormie,” which also introduces some Spanish folk flavor into the mix. Make no mistake, though, Ars Nova is still primarily an instrumental outfit, although the presence of multiple guitarists has taken some of the focus off the keyboards, and the sound is much more varied and interesting as a result. Also of note is the sidelong closing track, again mixing in some vocals, European folk styles, and tasty classical motifs, lifting the sound out that strictly Goblinesque groove. All taken this is among the best releases in Ars Nova’s oeuvre.
Related artist(s): Ars Nova
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.