Fovea Hex :: The Salt Garden I (Headphone Dust ‎/ Die Stadt‎)

It is always an unmitigated pleasure to enter this house and warm oneself by its smoldering sod fire.

Fovea Hex :: The Salt Garden I (Headphone Dust ‎/ Die Stadt‎)

Having reviewed well nigh everything Fovea Hex has released, the superlatives left to describe this unique chamber ensemble are fast running out. Clodagh Simonds, who sings like she is untying a secret, delivers another small, precious parcel, the first since 2011, like an artisanal delicacy dependent on the fortuitous seasonal availability of some rare ingredient.

In the  past, she has gathered round friends and acquaintances as varied as Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, film composer Carter Burwell, sound artists Colin Potter, Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio) and William Basinski. Itemized credits are lacking for these three songs and closing instrumental, though the website identifies the contributors to The Salt Garden I (a new trilogy apparently afoot, like the exquisite Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent) as Michael Begg, Potter, and Laura Sheeran, with violinist Cora Venus Lunny and cellist Kate Ellis and “special guests” Eno and Baroque violinist Justin Grounds.

Processional harmonium lends “The Golden Sun Rises Upon the World Again” a somber hopefulness, as if the sisters to whom she sings are spiritual ones, while its literary quality and drama bring a closer relationship to the mind, one forged in the crucible of domestic abuse. “No Bright Avenue” longs for flight in the clarion mingling of Simonds’ voice with Sheeran’s. Accompanied by apparitional singing wine glasses (or most probably their electronic equivalent), “The Undone Mother,” “hidden in whom: / one immense calm eye / one engine of lightning / one unfurling song,” comes effortlessly but from the absolute depths. Justin Grounds is a shaft of light on “Solace” and his playing actually charms the birds from the trees.

Like most of its releases, Fovea Hex’ The Salt Garden I is accompanied by an ambient remix disc (of “Solace,” by Steven Wilson [Porcupine Tree, Bass Communication] this time), which sadly is only available to a chosen few, forward-thinking subscribers.

It is always an unmitigated pleasure to enter this house and warm oneself by its smoldering sod fire.

The Salt Garden I is available here.

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