This review is published in March 2002 and I have already discovered one of the best CDs of the year. Only one day after having read that Anna Varney Cantodea (Sopor Aeternus) had collaborated in a conceptual side project, I have bought this nice digipack. Driving from my office to my home I have been listening to this CD and I can assure you that I had gooseflesh (I don´t fall into tears since my football team lost Spanish premiere league).
reviewAlthough the CD looks like a side project - I thought it was going to be an electric work, something unusual in the current Sopor´s career -, in fact I would say that this is another CD by Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows. The beautiful cover art includes Sopor´s symbol and the musicians are almost the same who had collaborated in the latest works of Sopor (Johannes Knirsch (double bass); Katrin Ebert (violin, viola); Martin Höfert (cello); Guido Spitz (basson, bass-basson); Jutta Sinsel (clarinet, oboe); Alen Markulin (guitar); and Simon Tobias Ostheim (drums, percussion)). The vocalists are Anna Varney Cantodea and a young girl named Constance Fröhling, a sort of child of "The Exorcist" with her face pierced, who has composed both the melodies and lyrics of this wonderful CD All instrumentation's and arrangements are written by Anna Varney (well, it isn´t credited but it is very clear).
I don´t know if you followed our founder's advice about "Dead lovers´ sarabande (face two)" but if you did it, you discovered a music extremely symphonic and beautiful, solemn and spiritual, depressive in its texts and bright in its concept, and without electric instruments. After "Dead...", "Songs from the inverted wound" was released, a CD more intimate (if it´s possible) and personal. Well, Nenia C´alladhan is, in my opinion, much better than any other Sopor Aeternus CD, and I could only compare it to "Dead face two" although Nenia C´alladhan is brighter. Before going on with the review, I would like to tell you that Sopor Aeternus, as many other gothic artists, has two stages: the first one until "Todeswunsch - Sous le Soleil de Saturne", very electric and with a gothic after-punk vein; a sort of bridge between styles - The inexperienced spiral traveller -, and a second stage which begins with "Dead lovers´ sarabande (face one)". This stage is fully symphonic and acoustic.
And what could I tell you about this CD?. It is wonderful. The first song "An die Sterne" (5:41) is simply exquisite. A precious vocal duet with the voice of Anna more melodic than ever and a wondrous instrumentation. The vocal harmonies are touching and sweet. "Die Sümme im Sturm" (8:54) has a delicate instrumentation and Anna´s voice reminds me to Marc Almond, plenty of sweetness and always wrapped by crystalline orchestral arrangements. "Schwarzer Spiegel" (3:45) is more up tempo and leads us to a medieval fair with happy percussion and string arrangements. "Schattengesang" (8'13) is a track very moving with nice vocal harmonies and recreates the medieval atmosphere of the concept. "Der See des Vergessens" (10:02) y "Sternblumennacht" (11:06) have too many minutes and I have to little adjectives to describe so many beauty, but I´ll highlight the middle part of "Der See...", brilliant and majestic, and the tempo of "Sterblumennacht", a sort of epic ballad with acoustic instruments. "Schwarzer Spiegel II" (3:45) is the same as the first part but with a lower tempo and the voice of Constance instead of Anna´s. Only vocals and a crystalline acoustic guitar. The last song - "Lied der Todesfee" (3':05) begins with a harpsichord and it is a nice final duet. The bonus track is the original version of "Sternblumennacht" (11:00) sung by Constance only accompanied by acoustic guitars. Anna sings at the end of the song.
If you already know Sopor Aeternus you must buy this CD If you don´t know its music, try to imagine Lacrimosa´s music without electric instruments and with a varied instrumentation. Although it´s hard to define Sopor Aeternus music, it´s an experience you have to live. Go to your local record store, listen to the first track, and if you don´t like it. Not only you don´t like progressive rock but you don´t like music at all. Touching masterpiece.