Review: Cedar Spirits (2012)


artist: Cedar Spir­its
release: Cedar Spir­its
format: CD
year of release: 2012
label: Glass Throat
dur­a­tion: 51:09

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Although the col­lab­or­a­tion had been a few years in the mak­ing, it was still a pleas­ant sur­prise when this album – cre­ated by Pythag­u­mus Mar­shall, Rachel Boaz-Scott, and Chet W. Scott – finally arrived. The first thing that strikes me, as usual with Glass Throat albums, is the flaw­less pack­aging, a coarse grey-on-grey, 6x6″, six panel gate­fold.

All of it, includ­ing the music of course, takes us deep into the forests which form the spir­itual home­land of these artists. Per­haps most dir­ectly that of the Pacific North­w­est where they are based, but uni­ver­sal enough to speak to any­one who feels a bond with leafy giants. The sounds of the Cedar Spir­its are ele­mental, drenched by rain, warmed by the sun, in deep con­nec­tion with the wood­land soil.

On an ambi­ent level, it’s the peace­ful field record­ings on this album that really trans­port me men­tally to the inten­ded set­ting, but add in the ritual neo­folk – a logical middle ground between related pro­jects novem­three and Ruhr Hunter – and the real spirit of this album comes forth. Melody is in the gui­tars, dul­ci­mers, and psal­tery, with touches of ocar­ina, har­monium, and other sup­port instru­ments. Deep skin drums provide the basic pulse in most tracks, with bells and bowls provid­ing per­fect metal­lic tones where appro­pri­ate. The voices of all three are as always: suit­ably rough, untrained, but fully ded­ic­ated. The mood of the music shifts with the weather: from deep, wet, and dark pieces to more anim­ated, sunny hymns.

There’s a lovely, dis­tinctly mod­ern pagan feel­ing in Cedar Spir­its, one that leans less on man-made tra­di­tion, and more on a dir­ect com­mu­nion with the envir­on­ment, channeled through a uniquely Amer­ican music­al­ity that com­bines influ­ences for­eign and nat­ive. It is per­haps pre­cisely what you’d expect to hear from these artists, fated to work together at some point, but that doesn’t make it any less impress­ive. Pos­sibly the best bit of wyrd witch­ery you’ll hear this year.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. River Of Puri­fic­a­tion (8:31)
2. Growth (6:55)
3. Alone (4:21)
4. Soil (3:53)
5. Keeper Of The Woods (5:05)
6. Call­ing Down The Sun (4:56)
7. To You, I Give Myself (6:34)
8. Soar (3:49)
9. Wild Serenity (7:05)

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