Faith & the Muse
~reviewed by Blu
For fans of Faith & the Muse, this new double CD, full of rarities, live performances and re-mixes, is nothing short of heaven and would be the ultimate gift this holiday season if they don't own it already. That being said, I'm very grateful DJ Psionic decided to review this CD too (read below) because I was about to say that I didn't think it would be a very good starting place for someone who hasn't heard them before because it was so varied, I would be afraid a new listener wouldn't get a good handle on what Faith and the Muse is all about. Perhaps I don't give listeners enough credit. He proved me wrong before I even utter the words. It's a great compliment that this CD with its more club-friendly re-mixes, can garner the appreciation of someone such as DJ Psionic who's a well-known hard ass with a place in heart for aggressive industrial. And I suppose, that was the point of a CD like this -- to present a variety of songs and sounds to cultivate and develop eager ears as well as to document the progress of a great and dare I say, one of the most professional bands in our scene.
This release stands as a testament to a
band who's had a rich history in recorded and live performances. The CD
booklet contains an essay detailing their history, complete with beautiful
photos and commentary by both Monica and William. The artwork, done as
usual by the multi-talented Monica, is stunning and careful attention to
detail was even given to the CDs themselves. The inside tray photo is my
favorite though - a collage of flyers, tickets, passes and concert billings
- many that I have saved myself.
Skipping down a bit, probably my personal favorite on this entire collection is their cover of Chistian Death's "Romeo's Distress" (live). I remember the first issue of Carpe Noctem Magazine that I ever bought was the issue released not too long after Rozz William's death. In it, William Faith wrote an essay - a personal account of his experiences having known Rozz Williams as a friend. That essay always stuck in the back of my head and from that moment on, I had a great respect for William Faith and his willingness to share what was obviously, a great personal loss. So knowing that history, it only seems fitting there would be at least one of Rozz's songs on their cover CD. Again, it might be hard to imagine Monica's beautiful voice belting out the words that used to come so inspired from Rozz before you hear this track, but believe me, its a wonderful thing and very much the track that I believe makes this entire collection worth getting. Musically it captures that Christian Death "sound" (and no wonder -- William used to be in Shadow Project with Rozz) and Monica's voice comes in less like the airy muse she usually is and more pointedly mischievous and almost elf-like. I do like the harder edge in her voice. I can only imagine with what love that this song is performed with. Rounding out the Morning CD, is an acoustic version of "Drown," a demo of the exotic "All Lover's Lost" and the original demo of "Heal." What's most interesting is the high quality and professional sound of these demos. I'm sure most new bands would stand in wonder, mouth agape, and exclaim, "That's a demo?!".
The Night CD showcases Live versions of "Cantus," "Scars Flown Proud," "Sparks," "The Silver Circle," "All Lovers Lost/Arianrhod," "The Unquiet Grave," and "Annwyn, Beneath the Waves." And although I prefer listening to the original CD versions of all these songs, they serve as a great testament to what this band can do live. I remember listening with great adoration and love to the song "Cantus" but thinking to myself, "they'd never be able to pull this off live." Months later, at a concert, I was proven wrong and this live recording of "Cantus" demonstrates the power of that performance that could have very well be something at a classical music concert backed by a symphony. The drums thunder, symbols crash and Monica's voice soars - otherworldly and heavenly. I can still see her, arms outstretched, wind blowing her hair and dress, and that voice flowing out of her like it was the easiest and most natural thing to do in the world. I was simply dumbfounded watching them perform this song. "Scars Flown Proud" with William's masterful gritty guitar riffs is always nice to hear, in any form, and is a song I thought never got the play in clubs that it deserved - the lyrics so applicable and meaningful to our scene. My favorite live track though is the theatrically dramatic "All Lovers Lost/Arianhod" which showcases Monica's amazing vocal talent as she sings solo until those pounding drums come in and take over with a primal and mystical drive. Live its simply heart stopping and I always tend to dream of some exotic theatrical stage performance set to this music. "The Unquiet Grave" with its story-telling folk jig, will be a different twist for those not familiar with their fondness for Celtic culture that has been openly demonstrated on past CDs - quite a treat. Any time an artist can bring cultural awareness into their works is admirable to me.
The rest of the Night CD is of course, the re-mixes and admittedly, I despise the "idea" of them in that I don't think the originals needed to or warranted re-mixing. I'm also not too dim to realize that these re-mixes make them more viable to the club scene and thusly, serve as a vehicle for exposing a greater audience to the rest of Faith & the Muse's work. Perhaps if I had never heard the originals, I wouldn't object so much, but somehow, hearing the monotonous "thump thump thump" club beat covering up a song like "Elyria" while Monica's voice takes a back seat is just disheartening to me. Its simplifies these songs into something mediocre and Faith and the Muse have *never* been a mediocre band. I also realize that I'm a jaded and bitter old-school goth fan and I will always wince at re-mixes and plead for originals on the dance floor if given the opportunity. (Despite the newer generations inability to dance to anything without a higher bpm, we never had any problems dancing to their songs before...)
That smallish, personal criticism out of my system, this double CD is quite a gift from a band who's reputation has always been well-respected among its peers and through out the scene. Far more professional in sound and actions than most bands I've ever met, Faith and the Muse are a scene legend who will one day, go down in history as one of the best bands we ever had. Jump on the train now kiddies while its rolling - open your ears and minds and experience just what real musicians and artists can do.
The Morning cd Tracklisting:
The Night cd Tracklisting:
FAITH AND THE MUSE
~reviewed by Psionic
~It's not often that Goth projects wind up in my hands to review, and rarer still that I'm impressed enough to give it a good review. The Metropolis folks hurled this at me in a most casual manner, almost -daring- me to give it a bad review. Well, nyeah nyeah to them. 'Vera Causa' is the finest Gothic genre release I've heard since the Diary Of Dreams cd, 'One Of 18 Angels'. (Another Metropolis release, incidentally...)
Collectively, the resume of the 2 artists (William Faith and Monica Richards) that fuel Faith And The Muse is a mapwork of old-skool-Goth-flava. Involvement with the seminal and/or legendary projects Christian Death, Mephisto Waltz, Shadow Project, Sex Gang Children, and Strange Boutique should give you a pretty clear picture.. These aren't a couple of mascara'd punks still living with mommy and daddy... No, this is a mascara'd duo of epic proportions.
Now, I make no claims to having almost -any- previous knowledge of F&tM material. 'Vera Causa' is the first time I'd heard them. So I guess it's a good thing that 'Vera Causa' is a 2 cd release, so as to give me a deep-dish helping of Gawthic-Gewdness. (Not a very spooky way to describe a band like this, I know... My apologies to any offended batkid readers.) The 2 cd's are distinguished form each other as the 'Morning' cd and the 'Night' cd. The 'morning' cd is a collection of rarities, demo versions and acoustic treatments of classic F&tM material. To be honest, it didn't do so much for me. While I can respect the technical proficiency, it just sort of lacked the edge that the electric/electronic versions the 'Night' cd contain (more on that later). I have never been a big fan of 'demo' versions used as filler on a cd, and this is no exception to my dislike of that idea. Several of the tracks on the 'Morning' cd seem unfinished to me. I do like the forays into traditional Celtic music, if only for the fact that I can respect their willingness to break the mold and do what they like. All in all, the 'Morning' cd is, I'm sure, something that long-time fans of F&tM will sink their fangs quite deeply into. Personally I listen to it for their STUNNINGLY well done Kate Bush cover only. Otherwise I'm all about the 'Night' cd.
Ahhh, yes... The 'Night' cd. Similar to
the 'Morning' cd in that it's mostly different versions of previously released
tracks, it differs in that it contains 7 live tracks and 7 remixes. (not
demo or acoustic versions, you see now such differences?) If the live versions
are anything to go by, F&tM must be a mind-numbing live spectacle indeed.
'Frater Ave Atque Vale' is, in the words of a certain wee Batkid princess
in GloomCookie, squishy. Yes. Oh. So. Squishy. It squishes somehow. But
The Morning cd Tracklisting:
The Night cd Tracklisting: