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Joy Shannon And The Beauty Marks - Aes Sidhe

  by Keith How

published: 30 / 8 / 2017

Joy Shannon And The Beauty Marks - Aes Sidhe
Label: Triple Goddess Records
Format: CD


Intriguing and atmospheric new release from Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks which is both fascinating and moving in its creation and scope

'Aes Sidhe' is the seventh album from Celtic pagan/neo folk ensemble Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks. Shannon herself leads the way, playing harp, cello and vocals. The album presented here was released on Beltane (a pagan festival celebrating the beginning of summer) in keeping with the spiritual themes entwined within.'Aes Sidhe' means 'People of the Mound', and refers to spirits and ancestors who have passed on. According to Celtic and Nordic mythologies the ancients buried the dead in a “mound”, which symbolises a pregnant Goddess who would rebirth the dead on “the other side” or the afterlife. This information is helpful to know before pressing 'play'. 'Aes Sidhe' consists of three movements, 'Death', 'Entering the Mound' and 'Rebirth', and, given the subject matter, reveals a mysterious and other worldly atmosphere. The album is lovingly and sensitively created and recorded. Joy Shannon’s harp playing in harmony with her vocals are transfixing and often moving as she opens a door to give a glimpse of another way of seeing. 'Aes Sidhe' is quite a sombre affair and full of drama and emotion as you might imagine. Often the vocals have an ethereal chant-like effect, resonating deeply alongside a harmonium and cello. The harp itself shimmers and sparkles like stars before a Celtic dawn. Guitars are kept to a minimum, creating drone-like atmospheres back in the mix.On 'A Pause' the fret work of Xasthur creates a dreamlike moment, opening the 'Entering the Mound' section. Joy Shannon’s magnificent vocal range and sensitive poetic lyrics guide the listener along this forgotten path. 'The Grey Havens', which references Tolkien and comes with elvish whispers, heralds the final movement 'Rebirth' and is totally gorgeous, giving a sense of nature's breath and the season’s cycles. The album flows nicely, revealing shades of dark and light and atmospheres that move from sombre and haunting to melancholic and intense. The production is crisp and uncluttered, oft en sparse and delicate and,given the subject matter, allows the whole concept to live and breathe. This is not an album to be listened to at random. A listener must be prepared to engage completely. You are almost lulled or transfixed by the sense of being between two worlds. There is nothing “dark metal” or “goth” here; this is an “earth” record and an invitation into another dimension. Those who are drawn to the darker side of Celtic folk will find much to intrigue and delight in (those who are not might be advised to have a listen). The Beauty Marks conjure up a magical and mysterious creation that will haunt and stimulate the consciousness. My first listen, quite accidentally, was under the full moon in July, so I was exposed to the full presence of 'Aes Sidhe' and I found it intoxicating and engaging.

Track Listing:-
1 Fall from Tír na nÓg
2 Cŵn Annwn
3 Völva
4 Himmelstraße
5 A Pause
6 Entering the Mound
7 Under the Whitethorn Tree
8 Folvang
9 Tír na nÓg
10 Grey Havens
11 Valhallavägen
12 Mag Mell
13 Tír Tairngiri

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