Gae Bolg | ‘Requiem’
Roll that word around your mouth. There’s something horrible, primal and macabre about it even without resorting to its background, which I’m going to anyway.
The mythic fatal spear of Cuchulainn, lunged from between toes, and recounted in The Táin as filling its victim’s pierced body with barbs that could only be removed by severing the flesh.
Such is the musical moniker of longtime Sol Invictus collaborator and trumpeter Eric Roger.
Despite the excellent choice of name, Gae Bolg has few references to Irish mythology or musical modes: instead Roger has penned a sombre, piercingly melancholy and disctinctly European collection of odes comprised of choral, percussive and chanted misereres which are evocative, poignant and atmospheric.
Influences can be heard from various sources in the current Neoclassical canon, and coupled with Roger’s own pedigree this makes for an enticingly bleak work.
The various gnarled and atavistic guitar lines that pop up here and there remind instantly of Rosa Crux, while first and second album Arcana may easily be recalled when listning to the more distinctly choral and hymnal pieces.
The standout, martial vibes of ‘Marche Au Tombeau’ have that In Slaughter Natives immediacy, while the album’s highlight, ‘Lacrymosa’ is a satyr’s call of pipes and strings, heady with overtones of ‘The Tubular Bells’ darkest movements.
It’s not perfect, and the dreamy, almost Cocteau Twins sweetness of the one or two of the later tracks robs a little of the imperious feel.
Aside from that however this is an excellent collection of stiffly composed and austerely performed classicism: at times cathedral filling in its grandeur, and heavy with the tang of incense, pine and damp stone, this is for my money at least an essential piece.
Whet the Earl Grey.
4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 01/06/06