Since 2009 Hexvessel have graced this broken planet, despite sounding as though they have been lounging in a woodland with Marc Bolan, Nick Drake and Fairport Convention since the 60’s. The twinkling psychedelic folk of fairytales and sunnier times combine with a wide-eyed innocence in these mystical troubadours. Drawing greater similarities with their debut release Dawnbreaker (2011) than the somewhat darker vibes of When We Are Death (2016) there is a strong feeling of medieval troubadours spreading insight and naïve enlightenment. Perhaps it is the return of Andrew McIvor (co-writer of Dawnbreaker) that has heralded the travelling minstrels return, regardless it is a delight to join the clan once more.
Blessing commences with a ritualistic chant with choral enhancement, glorifying a fallen comrade or perhaps a sacrifice along the lines of The Wicker Man. Joyous, but brief it leads into the melodic, atmospheric swing of Son Of The Sky a thoroughly engaging combination of strings, guitar and slow marching percussion move us onward. Old Tree is a cool and enveloping melancholia, beautifully captured in the imagery of Columbian filmmaker Mark Wyatt which can be viewed here.
“I wrote this song at a time of what should have been deep sadness, but as a way of finding solace in nature. We tend to think of life from such a short term perspective. Nature takes millions of years to develop some of the intricate life support systems we depend on to survive. I found my answers in the trees and what they tell me. As Hesse said, when we listen to trees, we learn the ‘ancient law of life’. This song ‘Old Tree’ is very much like the first song I ever wrote as Hexvessel and goes to the core of what our music is about. To quote Lord Byron, ‘I love not Man the less, but Nature more’. Mat McNerney, singer, songwriter.
Changeling continues our mellow pace in the glorious, gloaming arborescence haunted with woodwind. Ancient Astronaut picks up the pace in a rousing and emotive ballad. I am unclear as to what Visions Of A.O.S. may mean to Hexvessel, it is a mysterious progressive undulating folk instrumental which ends in a low moan. A Sylvan Sign opens with birdsong, it feels as a though new day has dawned and it is glorious, reawakening the old gods with acoustic guitar and cello. Opening with fevered (as in the slinky Peggy Lee torchsong) percussion we enter into a folky syncopated reel and evocation of nature Wilderness Spirit moves the listener as it undulates. Otherworld Envoy slows the pace into an ethereal and pensive mode with a hint of dark discordance below the majestic instrumental theme. For what is this envoy seeking and from where will it return? Birthmark with its delicately melodic electric guitar swoops like a latter day Pink Floyd with a Syd Barrett influence. Mesmerising and enchanting, with hidden secrets. Journey To Carnac, continues our voyage where a delightful picked guitar is elaborated upon to form a spinning pirouette of an instrumental which ends too briefly. Liminal Night is somewhat darker with elements of the Stranglers Waltzinblack to commence, the world is certainly not cut and dry. Disconcerting and in a minor key, tiptoeing past the docile spirits at this threshold of consciousness we move on to Closing Circles. Percussive, the ritual draws to an end as the spiritual remains are saluted and given a dignified farewell.
This is a beautiful album, which encapsulates a timeless transcendental celtic romance. A welcome return to the pagan psychedelic folk warriors at the gates of the otherworld.
2. Son Of The Sky
3. Old Tree
5. Ancient Astronaut
6. Visions Of A.O.S.
7. A Sylvan Sign
8. Wilderness Spirit
9. Otherworld Envoy
11. Journey To Carnac
12. Liminal Night
13. Closing Circles
All Tree was released February 15, 2019 and can be ordered from Amazon.
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