Ignis Fatuus:The Futility Goddess

Ignis Fatuus:The Futility Goddess
(Cold Spring - 1998)

If Edgar Allen Poe were alive today, I think he'd be most at home with this deliciously melancholy disc, a literal exercise in Futility... Dark chamber musick embellished with quiet spoken word pieces... for your darkened chamber.

Stylistically these pieces aren't "ambient" per se, but that is indeed the intended listening mode; as described in the liner notes, "This is musick to be heard but not listened to, for it is merely a context for which to access your own inner visions, situations, melodramas, mythologies, encounters, and revelations."

Ignis Fatuus is William Christopher Snipes, aka Christus 777, with a bit of help from contributors. His world seems to be one of unlit castle halls echoing with gothic, neo-classical sounds and eerie words of poetry... For some, (myself included) the gloom can be quite enlivening.

The attacks and sweeps of forceful violins carry the opener, Communion, whose highlight is the haunted whisper of Jarboe (of Swans) as she quietly tells the tale of the Futility Goddess. The track almost seamlessly becomes Beyond the Veil, an interlude of strings, organ and light snares. The piece eventually Prelude/Immersion, through Christus' quietly modulated voice, chronicles a young man's nocturnal misadventure on behalf of a lady friend. A stately string and organ section closes the track

The classical instrumentation of the shortest cut (1:29) Mystery is accompanied by an odd, panning percussive clatter. The longest track (6:55), Sanctum of Ashes flows with a stream of guitar, piano, strings and dark lyrics... sometimes spoken, sometimes sung, always ethereal. The mix of instruments blurs and intensifies, gaining drumbeats and feedback drone. Straightforward piano with string forms the more sprightly Trickle.

More piano tones, though blurred by sustain, ring out in One Tiny Step. Little bird chirps decorate the edges and passionate violin comes to play. The track fades away, segueing into the more somber organ and string section sounds of The Mourning Hours. Still, the birdies chirp on, into the next track even. Awe strikes with a string and horn arrangement reminiscent of Pachelbel's Canon. The spoken word portion is literally one spoken word.

The final tracks are previously released material, but perfectly mesh with the rest of the disc's material. Cache Toi opens with a powerful, wailing voice and swelling strings. Female whisperings in French add another layer of sweet sorrow to this beautiful track. Encomium's womanly words are in English, making the dread in them all the more apparent. Dark poundings and whip lashings invade Dream Sequence's otherwise quietly stirring midnight reveries.

The Futility Goddess  is a little dark and a bit gloomy... perfectly so. For these melancholy and ethereal songs, I raise high One Thumb of admiration.1 thumb up
This review posted July 12, 1998

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