CD Music Review

Clear Star by Kwannon

GOG members and attendees have enjoyed Jenne Micale’s ethereal voice at rituals, the Pagan Picnic, at Crucible, and at other Pagan events. Others may have heard her at the recent Psychotic Music Festival or know her from Belladonna Bouquet. We’re happy to have her as our new official grove Bard. As Kwannon, Jenne treats us to 11 songs of rhythm and grace and power.

All the music is original. The arrangements are unusual and sparse, and this brings her voice out front. She plays all the instruments herself, whether dulcimer, psaltery, valiha, berimbau, ectara, tinwhistle, frame drum, deertoes, sistrum, chime or zils. Sometimes the music reminds me of Dead Can Dance, at other times it’s a little like Libana or The Moors but, always, it’s very much Jenne’s own. It’s tremendous for trance dancing, slow belly dancing, or just trancing out. It’s also satisfying just to put headphones on and bliss out to.

The first song, I Have a Young Sister, is a good start, a good introduction to Jenne’s operatic voice. Brahma (from Emerson’s poem) and Sidus Clarum are both beautiful. Old Woman is a strong Goddess invocation to a loping primeval rhythm. Cap and Bells is a wyrd and haunting arrangement of the Yeats poem. Among Kwannon’s original lyrics, Steel Grey Sea is my personal favorite, a shadowy meditation on death as a journey. Iza, about ice, has sort of a King Crimson feel to it. Midnight Sun is a really cool, and frequently comic, exploration of artic realms, both planetary and personal. Complicity sounds like a medieval Lughnasadh dance. This one was playing pleasantly in my head long after the CD finished. Of the last two songs, Eight of Swords is a slow lament, and Lost Words a confessional spoken under soaring vocals.

For information, e-mail Jenne at,
or go to Kwannon’s website at

(Next, we need to get Jenne to record some of the invocation songs she’s done for rituals!)

—reviewed by edwin chapman

Steel Gray Sea
lyrics: J. Micale, Clear Star

grief –
the salt of winter’s
steel gray sea.

spume and crash
drum faceless rock
rattle the bones
of impassive sand.

the sea roars
the dead steal through
the clenched fists of life
like sand.

the wheel creaks.
a gull wails.
now is the time
of the dead.

death, your hand is cold and dark
death, you are the shadow
death, your sea is wide and cold
the essence of ending.

death, your face is shrouded close
death, you haunt my footsteps
death, your sea runs through my veins
the mystery of ending.

death, your hand is soft and mild
death, you are my comfort
death, your sea washes me
the blessing of ending.

this is the sunless sea of our sorrows, our tears, the world’s western edge.
over this cold ocean, someday you shall travel to the door of birth, but not this day. Gaze at its waters – perhaps a ship sails of one who is passing. Gaze now at the dark horizon – perhaps the distant lights of the Summerland glitter in the distance.


Eight of Swords
lyrics: J. Micale, Clear Star

the bricks are hard –
the earth’s red bones –
and the crows
are laughing

they sing of the dreams
that taunt, that haunt
that howl a hag
outside winter’s window

the cards build masonry
the stars glare forever
the pendulum ceases
to give answer and stills

the ink pond ripples
images dance on its surface
and cannot evade the frost