(Die Stadt)

Many years ago, when Jochen Schwarz first got in touch by sending me a still treasured copy of John Duncan’s “Crucible”, I’d never have imagined that Die Stadt would have arrived at the current level of value and respect by listeners and musicians alike, although expert ears (and eyes) could already understand that, beyond the music and the artworks, lied the heart of a man who really loves sound in all its components and whom Clodagh Simonds – mastermind behind the Fovea Hex vision – thanks on the cover referring to his “calm wisdom”. Let’s not forget that this wise man’s creature, among hundreds of beautiful things, has published the best releases by Mirror including their epochal masterpiece “Front Row Centre”; that alone is enough for this writer. But I’ll throw other names up: Tietchens, Jackman, O’Rourke, Basinski, Hafler Trio (also a participant in this project). These are the stigmata of high quality and “Allure”, third and final episode of the “Neither speak nor remain silent” trilogy, confirms the axiom in style. The CD itself lasts about 25 minutes, sufficient to realize that the three tracks are just like a wholesome dream where “contour” and “definition” are virtual concepts that never translate into reality. Indeed the sonic circumstances follow a continuous flow and a scheme of sorts: a hypnotic background where acoustic instruments such as violin, zither, bodhran and harmonium blend with an exquisitely evocative electronica is complemented by Simonds’ detached yet delicate voice singing her own lyrics in the first half of the songs. After she’s through, the soundscapes reveal an underworld of conscious loss of control on the senses for long moments, finely enhanced by humble contributions by illustrious guests (this time Steven Wilson, Robert Fripp, Donal Lunny and Percy Jones). As usual with Fovea Hex, the only advice is to listen carefully, bearing in mind that Nico, Current 93 and Irish roots are influences that work splendidly as parts of a whole that doesn’t cease to amaze. The first limited edition includes a bonus disc (“An answer”). Sixty minutes by Hafler Trio reworking and remodeling the allure (pun intended) of Simonds’ compositions according to his well known enigmatic vision, muffled drones, oneiric scenes and, at one point towards the end, resonating whangs vaguely recalling Organum’s “Amen” (on Die Stadt, by the way) that are better left undescribed: either you vibrate or you don’t, and there are at least a couple of sections here that will send the ready ones up there with the satellites and the shooting stars. Of course, H3O fans won’t live without this one, the perfect complement to a gorgeous release coming in a black box that should include all three chapters.

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