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 dulcimergoddess@hotmail.com, or go to Kwannon’s website at http://www.geocities.com/royvis.geo/kwannon.html (Next, we need to get Jenne to record some of the invocation songs she’s done for rituals!)
—reviewed by edwin chapman