Epicycles (CD) / Orbit (EP)
~reviewed by Blu
When I have a chance, I usually spend my extra money on the Middle Pillar website buying tons of glorious CDs that I've been meaning to get since they came out. My last splurge began when I saw an announcement for a new 3 track CD single from The Changelings which serves as a teaser to their upcoming album Astronomica. While shopping, I also realized I hadn't yet bought their CD Epicycles either which is a great collection of "Incidental Music 1997 - 2000". Purchase made, order shipped and here we are.
If you've been a long time Changelings fan such as I, Epicycles is a must have for your collection containing music slightly unlike their previous releases because its made up of mostly instrumental, atmospheric tracks that were made as commissioned pieces for other entities. Tracks 1 - 4 were commissioned by HGI for the forthcoming computer game Noble Armada while tracks 5 and 6 were commissioned for Netherworld haunted house. Its really rather interesting to see how successfully this band rose to the occasion and ventured into the realm of soundtrack music. Track one, "Red Shift," starts out with an odd almost spacey-sounding electronic beat that is shortly followed up by dramatic, slow drumming and haunting vocals by Regeana soar and add texture throughout as Paul's violin adds a melancholy melody that builds into a much more intense theme by the end of the song. "Eclipse" starts out right away with heavily layered vocals, light spontaneous guitar and exotic percussion reminiscent of Dead Can Dance in ways. More uptempo, "Tannhauser Gate" continues the exotic theme from the previous track but this time a more sinister tone is added I believe, mainly through bell tones made by the keyboards. A violin counter melody comes in to drive the song and add tension; atmospheric vocals swirls in the background and complex percussion runs wind up dramatically in a climax. "Dulcinea" is a slower, dreamy song with liquid-smooth melodies carried out by voice and strings. Starting off the two Netherworld tracks, "The Young Merlins" is indeed magical sounding - lots of sparkling chimes among swirling keyboards, dulcimer (I believe I hear it in there) and violins. And finally, "Dreams in the Witch House" is my favorite track on this CD. Although not entirely as spooky as you might think, it is darker than the rest but has more of a fantastical element to it. I believe the haunting wailing noises in the beginning of this one are not vocals but the musical saw that is noted in the credits. Regeana's voice comes in later - very minimal in the background adding just enough "whispering" to make you shiver a bit.
The Changelings' previous full-length CDs have sometimes had a theme to them -- Terra Firma with its exotic Indian sounds and Amphibian with its ocean-inspired maritime settings. With that in mind, I'm assuming this 3 song EP called Orbit hints that the upcoming CD Astronomica will have a "space" theme to it. The title track "Orbit" is a dreamy, lush song -- more pop-sounding than much of their older material with straightforward, accessible melodies. Perhaps not what you might have expected, it does hint at their extreme marketability in diverse genres. "Departure" starts out very abstract, almost experimental in sound before a very lovely violin melody comes in to clear it all up. Regeana's vocals are especially pleasing here sounding a bit more jazzy (a la Portishead). This is definitely one the swirly goths will enjoy dancing to. Track 3, "Veils of God" is more of the traditional exotic sound they're known for.
Continuously delightful and pleasantly surprising, The Changelings always manage to introduce new sounds and elements to their music while remaining true to the lush, classical qualities that have earned them the respect and love by a diverse set of listeners.
Epicycles Track List:
Orbit EP (from the upcoming CD Astronomica)
The Changelings are:
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