Review: Cedar Spirits (2012)


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

detailed info: discogs.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, 6×6″, 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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