Friday, April 12, 2013

Book of Shadows-Chimaera; Kendra Steiner Editions #235, litmited run of 150

In order to get a feel for where Book of Shadows may be coming from, Disaster Amnesiac conferred with a close relative, a practicing Wiccan, who described books of shadows as such: "collection[s] of spells, terminology and philosophy around one's magical/spiritual practice". It has struck me that this is not that very far removed from what bands do. Are not their songs and working methods intended to weave spells for the listener?
On Chimaera, Book of Shadows do indeed weave some strong spells. Principal members Sharon  and Carlton Crutcher lead their band through seven shimmering, generally slow-paced improvisations. The contemplative character of these tunes invite the listener to dive into their swirling psychedelic pools of sound. Sharon's wordless vocalizing flies over top of it all, at times a bird-ey warble, at times a Valkyrie schrei. It is always strongly spellbinding. Carlton's guitar and keyboard playing are always trance-ed and full of space. His long career with Texas Psych honchos ST 37 seems to have taught him much about Space Music Practice. He coaxes trippy Moog sounds for the duration of the album's center track, Cherrywood, to mind bending effect. Guitarists Brett Humphrey and Steve Marsh also go off on Cherrywood, spiking its over twenty minute incantation with sharp six string punctuations and electronic bubbling. This tune definitely evokes a magical, big, Texas sky, under which I imagine these Lone Star State coven members congregating. Elsewhere, tunes like To Merry Mary and Little Bitty Bette Easter 1970 (best song title Disaster Amnesiac has read in a while!) and Vineland, Book of Shadows continually show their mastery of the psychedelic vibe, oozing out their wide open inner spaces into the greater Omniverse, pacing the jams to such and extent that they become forms, big slabs of emerging sounds that blossom like nebulae.
Book of Shadows clearly have done a lot of magickal research. Get Chimaera, and be tantalized by their spells.

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