A World Lost In Time
Slowly amassing a cult following, violinist Eyvind Kang has contributed his significant talents to the likes of Secret Chiefs 3, The Decemberists and Laura Veirs, all the while producing occasional albums stylistically far beyond the virtuoso soloing for which he is known. Athlantis, his second release for Ipecac Recordings, inhabits a distinct universe all its own.Its lyrics are constructed in Latin based on Giordano Bruno’s Cantus Circaeus, a 400-year-old text on the art of memory. Rather than being a symphonic outlet for extensive violin soloing, Athlantis is a quasi-opera composed for two guitarists, a brass quartet (Ensemble di Ottoni di Modena) and a full choir (Coro da Camera di Bologna) fronted by Mike Patton and Jessika Kenney.
The results are otherworldly, sonically somewhere between Scandinavian opera, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern dreaminess and cinematic fantasy. “Andegaveness” drives this home with a baritone rumble from the choir that travels in bounds like wanderers over a hill, until the lead vocalists unleash their full power. The title track allows Kinney to seep out a performance as haunting as a ghost, a dire warning from an imposing siren.
“Conciliator” is only a solemn trumpet, bleating out as if it was “Taps” played from a mountain top. “Rabianara,” on the other hand, casts Patton as a suffering medieval monster, all screeches and guttural noises. But it’s “Lamentatio” and “Aquilas” that really deliver the goodsâ€šÃ„Ã®the former a dreamy sitar/acoustic guitar ballad with a vocal melody ascending and descending like a luxurious spiral staircase, the latter an unending Gregorian chant note with Patton humbly gliding through a vocal phrase like a distant Muslim prayer.
Athlantis is a wonderous journey, filled with mystery and subtle color. Far from any instant gratification that many music seekers live by, this is undiscovered territory for those yearning for something beyond the confines of the mundane.