Music Reviews

Artist: Celadon (@)
Title: Bitter Sweet
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: CD BABY
Rated: *****
Celadon is back with a new release titled 'Bitter Sweet'. The last I heard from this Seattle project of Eria Maia's was his 'Post Industrial Delicacies' CD a while back. As I recall, it was kind of a scattershot, unfocused affair that left me scratching my head. There were some good ideas and signs of talent but it seemed buried in the effluvia of excess with a lo-fi veneer. I'm happy to report though that Celadon has solved most of these problems and added a few new twists.

Beginning with 'Dark Decorum: The Gothic Charm School Theme Song' (polite mix), Maia shows that he can pull off an instrumental track with some complexity and panache. It is sort of pleasantly melancholy neoclassical little tune with a spritely pace. I get the impression that Eric didn't write the song, as it is 'based' on the music from the Gothic Charm School video. I went to check that out, and had a good chuckle, not because of the music. 'The Lady of Manners,' Jillian Venters, who started this Gothic Charm School thing (book, website, videos, etc.), is a hoot! Well, I suppose Goth needs a spokesperson to defend its poor maligned image, and she's as good a choice as anyone to take on the job. Anyway, Celadon carries off the track with aplomb, and I suppose the association can't hurt in the publicity department.

The next track, 'Passageway' features vocals by Sataray backed mostly by harmonium and percussion. Sataray's witchy voice sounds like she's invoking some kind of ancient ritual magic, and it sounds pretty spooky. 'The Deepest Sea' is a remix of an older Celadon track with a shoegazer flavor submerged in an ocean of sonics without being shoegazer music. 'Fuligin' might be what Tuxedo Moon would sound like if they were an Industrial band and had a progressive rock guitarist guesting. Somewhat slow and heavy with atypical percussive accents and a lot of background ambience. 'Sinister Device' has Balinese-like percussion rhythms, a dark bass undercurrent and a variety of other dense sonic elements that weave in and out of the music. We get another mix of with 'Dark Decorum: The Gothic Charm School Theme Song' (subversive mix) that is a bit heavier than the first, but to me, it's a case of 'too much of a good thing'. Moving on, 'The Long Walk Home' features Vanessa Skantze on wordless vocals that aren't quite in the Lisa Gerrard category, but still present a sorrowful wailing lament. Celandon's musical backing keeps it from getting buried in tragedy. 'Wisteria' follows, with Sataray again lending her voice, and this time it's an actual song with lyrics. The song is enshrouded in a ghostly musical atmosphere with quasi-trip hop beats. Nice track; Mr. Maia ought to work with this lady more often. 'Last track, 'A Stately Decline' was done live as a solo bass improvisation for butoh dance, but it doesn't sound much like a bass solo to me. It does feature the lower frequencies enmeshed in a wailing wall of noise, but I couldn't really get into it. Overall, 'Bitter Sweet' is a pretty decent release; it certainly has some good things going for it. I think Celadon needs just a wee bit more tempering, and maybe a full-time creative co-conspirator.

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