EBONILLUMINI – a portmanteau, the fusion of the light and the dark. Whether this dualism is meant to apply on the minds behind Ebonillumini, the Maiden Marshall (Christina Poupoutsi, voice and keys) and the Monk Marshall (J.D. Tait of the Meads of Asphodel, instruments and voice), I leave untold. The Ebon Channel, this duo’s first release, is a four-tracked EP “lyrically taking inspiration from the myths of the Ebon Atoll” in the Pacific Ocean – the Channel of the title being a strait running through the island. As the lyrics are quite poorly reproduced on the cover, I cannot and will not describe the lyrical content any further; it is free for anyone to investigate further this mysterious entity.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this shimmering jewel of an EP. A sombre and Gothic drama, in the best sense. Eerie and mystifying keys – piano, harps, flutes, harpsichord – with blackened expressive guitar lines in doomy tempos; dreamlike ambiances of dreary collapsing gardens in tantalizing nocturnal visions, sinking cathedrals and passing clouds, not without strains of atmosphere reminding slightly of late Romantic composers like Debussy. You wander along the aisles, among the decaying trees, look at the starry skies above and at the portentous clouds, heavy scents tickling remembrances of long forgotten pasts and those who lived here and might not yet have left; shadows might be moving, you begin to wonder whether you’re awake or lost in some weird and wondrous phantasmagoria. (And when I write the word ‘Gothic’, think of nothing but architecture in sunset, Horace Walpole and/or Fields of the Nephilim!)
The ambience remind a bit of Arcturus’ Le Masquerade Infernale, but more Gothic – elusive and mysterious, hiding somewhat behind veils of smoke and cloth in the damp radiance of Victorian street lights, with hints of nameless tribes in Oceania and their mysterious full moon rites. Later In The Woods might also be a reference point, if needed, along with (of course) Meads of Asphodel. “Into Forest’s So True” have over the past few months grown deep into my mind, it’s roots settling firmly with their hauntingly mysterious shine, the echoing harp melodies hanging like ripe fruits from the tangle of foliage in the garden described above, until it explodes into a fierce metallic crescendo – I stop writing now, listen for yourselves or miss out on something special.
The Maiden’s voice… ah! deep and charismatic, melismatic and vibrato-laden, not unlikely one of the better (of her gender at least) I have come across in metal. Expressive and theatrical, like a Diamanda Galas without the religious madness, or Franscesca Nicoli (Ataraxia/Monumentum) but staying in key and without the overblown histrionics. Listen especially to the outro of the otherwise rather tedious yet experimental interlude “Jung”, for a performance haunting in its naked sincerity.
The sun is very slowly setting over a Sweden aching for the burst of spring as I’m writing this, and heavy blankets of grey and purple clouds are caressing the ground with its soft rain – I cannot think of a better setting for this all too short release. The Ebon Channel is another radiant jewel adorning the mighty coruscating tower of Avantgarde Metal, filling the gaps between the pillars of this genre’s greater defining works. If Ebon Illumini retain and release the mysterious and dramatic beauty of their début unto the full-length format, I wouldn’t find it hyperbole to expect a masterpiece – if they don’t, I will be thoroughly disappointed. With bands like Ebon Illumini, the future of Avantgarde Metal’s evolution and proliferation shines bright (in the darkness).
Release: November 2008
Avantgenre: Gothic Dream Metal
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/ebonillumini
Review online since: 29.03.2009 / 17:10:54
1. Evident In Void