r e : i n i t i a t i o n
~reviewed by Xian
Prior to the album, Between Earth & Sky, there was Initiation. The debut album created in 1995 at the Signal to Noise studio in Toronto, Canada. Just one short year after the birth of Rhea's Obsession.
Even before Initiation, Rhea's Obsession was creating intense ritualistic atmospheres and surreal soundscapes. Their impressive discography begins with the soundtrack Wind, Fire and the Underground with their scores "Persephone," "Fire Dance" and an early recording of "Memento Mori," as seen on Re:Initiation. "Cun Lacoudhir" made its debut in Tabulae Anatomicae Sex as an acoustic piece amid the rest of the soundtrack. Tribe was a documentary on the bike courier culture, of which featured the songs, "Memento Mori," "Death By Moonlight," "Tsunami," and "My Prime." La Femme Nikita, the hit TV series on the USA Network based on the movie by the same name incorporated "Death by Moonlight" and "Cun Lacoudhir" in two difference episodes. From there Rhea's Obsession began to appear on compilations such as The Black Bible, Undercurrents, Animal Magnetism, Nekrology, The Carnival Within: A Dead Can Dance Tribute, and Continuum: A Spider Records Collection.
It was only a matter of time before Initiation was born on Spider Records as a collection of 10 songs by Sue Hutton and Jim Field. Woven of Sue's profound voice and Jim's skilled hands through guitars, world percussion and an immense amount of talent, their music is timeless and passionate, swaying from the melancholic to the elated. Rhea's Obsession can be compared to such masters as Dead Can Dance and Faith & The Muse and was named in honor of the creator/destroyer titan Rhea, mother of Zeus. Noted influences to their music is classical indian, ambient, punk, and macedonian folk. The core members themselves are influenced by a Tibetan Buddhist practice along with a Celtic Mystical Tradition, to honor their ancestral roots. Now remastered, remixed, reprogrammed, and reproduced and distributed by Metropolis Records, Re:Initiation has arrived once again to reawaken our senses after a six year slumber.
"Memento Mori" begins with soft backgrounds and demure chanting, subtly kissed by rolling cymbals and background vocals flowing into ethereal guitars and flutes. Halfway through the track, clamorous percussion begins to beat with a fast pace, followed by the guitar taking center stage. The songs ends leaving one feeling energized and serious. "Waves (take me alive)" is a mournful tune sung in english and filled with the light presence of keyboards and a hint of a percussive melody. Jim's guitars sway through the track with a quieting effect. The most passionate song on this album, "Cun Lacoudhir (the breaking ice)" is composed with an all or nothing philosophy. Contemplative in nature, this track invokes a deep sense of despair and wanderlust in me. Jim's guitars are strong in presence, Sue's voice tenacious and emotional.
"Strategies in Movement" is a short bit of experimental guitar soundscapes, built with different effects and a shy roll. "Death by Moonlight" begins with a chaotic mess of percussion and banging that soon come together at the initiation of the guitar, pounding in sync. Very tribal sounding in nature, this song is meant to be played at night atop a hill or roof or any other place you can get away from everyone and everything. It leaves you feeling empowered somehow, and able to deal with whatever life can throw you for just a bit longer. "Lufe Und Erde" is another short track of 40 seconds constructed of opera, symphony and a lot of effects to render the tune into a ghostly form. "Hymn to Pan" is another disquieting track, deeply layered, dark and intense in its entirety. Spoken word softly builds a paranormal evocation that becomes drowned out in the sheer sentient quality of the music that ends as Sue sings, "and the gods withdraw."
Another atmospheric piece, wrapped with peripheral chiming and drums and smothered with envious guitar atmospheres, chanting mantras and reverberating instruments is "Tsunami." The beginning of the Mudra Mixes, "Tsunami" is continuous and is followed appropriately by "Mantra." Echoing and hypnotic, the voice of shadows and whales, a spiritual yawning of the soul or hopscotch game on the tree of life. "Mantra" is definitely one for the loop option of the stereo. Appropriate for meditation, sleep and inspirational background noise.
"Tsunami (Mudra Mix)" has taken the original and imposed order upon chaos, instructing twirling and swaying percussion that induces a desire to spin and leap. Definitely one for the clubs. "Ocean (Mudra Mix)" shows the darker side of Rhea's Obsession. Middle eastern in feel with the symphonic underscore and a heartbeat rhythm, paired with somber chimes and layered melodies and panting. Dark ambient in feel and debaucherous in mood. "Anxia" continues with the maudlin tempest through an oppressive host of arrangements that drown your ears on all the audible levels of sound. Returning to the panting noted in "Ocean (Mudra Mix)," "Breathe" rides the pattern of inhalations and exhalations with experimental twangs and a simplistic percussive arrangement.
The grande finale of Re:Initiation is "Cun Lacoudhir (Haujobb Mudra Mix)." Daniel Myers delivers an impressive translation of the original, very electronic instead of the organic. I have not heard anything this industrial out of Myers in years. The beat is almost trancelike, but a touch disjointed and far more intense. Static, hissing, buzzing, crunching, chirps and other machine sounds dominate the track. In fact if you were to remove Sue's overly filtered voice and the Haujobb overtures, you would have rhythmic noise. The elektro/ebm layers anchor the song from completely diving into the noise genres. The only thing I did not like about this track was the extreme filtering of Sue's voice. Her vocal abilities are the spirit of Rhea's Obsession and I personally felt that they should not have been drowned out as much as they were.
Re:Initiation is a multidimensional album, thick and empowering with ritual and strength. The artists laudably take pride in their work, with each track carrying their love and attention in hopes of earning ours. Powerfully hypnotic and spiritually driven, Rhea's Obsession continues to soar our spirits through exotic scores and empowers us to dancing with wild abandon.
Rhea's Obsession is: Sue Hutton (vocals, hand percussion) and Jim Field (guitars, electric basses, bowed upright bass).
Additional musicians are: Dave Klotz (keyboards, additional arrangements), Ed Hanley (tablas, percussion), Chris Cawthray (drums, rik, djembe, doumbek), Victor Rebelo (drums).
"Cun Lacoudhir (Haujobb Mundra Remix)" by Daniel Myer.