Point Of Faith (order)
Image © 2002 Aeone
Point Of Faith
and other recordings
album reviews and artist reflections
Review, interview and HTML © 2002 Russell W Elliot
All Images © 2002 Aeone | used with permission
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Last updated: 30 September 2002
It has been two years since our last article on Aeone (pronounced ay-own), a creative singer songwriter from England presently living in southern California. The artist's earlier recordings include a Celtic crossover album entitled Window To A World (1991), The Woman's Touch (1999) and the mp3.com album Aeone (1999).
The artist has been actively engaged in writing and producing music for a variety of outlets including major films and television and has just released her latest solo album entitled Point Of Faith. This article presents a review of Point Of Faith and a review of the original soundtrack for The Mists Of Avalon whose music was composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge. Aeone sung the closing title "I Will Remember You Still." Our latest interview catches up with the artist since the release of her debut album entitled The Woman's Touch.
The Point Of Faith compact disc is accompanied by a glorious full colour booklet. In addition to the music, the CD contains mp3s of all of the tracks and a bevy of wonderful photographs, so many so that we have elected to incorporate only three in this article. Interested readers should visit the artist's website or order the album to see more. Visitors will also find video clips of all of the vocal work on Mists Of Avalon there. Read Aeone's comments on the photography below.
Point Of Faith Review
Aeone's new album is a thirteen track selection that picks up where The Woman's Touch leaves off. She continues to work largely on her own supported by her longtime collaborator Jeff Silverman (www.palettemusic.net) whose great mixing / mastering skills give the project a real consistency and clarity of sound and has taken Aeone's sound to another level. Silverman plays bass and also co-wrote/co-produced "She Walks With Me."
Guest artists include Gabe Witcher (violin) on "One Tribe" and Samantha Hunt (Irish fiddle) on "The Calling." The album opens with a rousing, lush and upbeat Celtic influenced track entitled "One Tribe." Layers of vocals are perfectly supported by rich instrumentals in the album's opening track. Work by the album's designer Alana Coghlan (www.randomdesigns.com) and photographer Sonia Keshishian (www.soniakeshishian.com) contribute to the high quality of the resulting package.
The album's title track is a tenderly sung ballad with lightly arranged solo verses complimented by choruses full of layered harmonies. One is reminded of Clannad's later work by the ethereal vocalise and lush instrumental arrangements that build as the track develops. Layers of sustained tribal vocals are supported by crisp and rhythmic percussion in the dramatic soundscapes of "Umbra Nihili" that draw the listener further into Aeone's symphonic sound. Strong solo vocals in "The Last Breath," a soft ballad-come-lullaby are supported by gentle harmonies that contribute with orchestral-style instrumentals to the richness of the track.
Layers of vocals in "She Walks With Me" are contrasted by Middle Eastern-style instrumentals as Aeone's lead vocal is contrasted by further whispy backing harmonies giving the track tremendous depth. Listen for the robust bass rhythm in the arrangement of this track and especially in the percussive pulse of the gorgeous track "4 Chambers," an album standout with many layers of vocal harmonies. In sharp contrast soft Enya-like vocalise drives the melody of the stunning "The Singing Cloud" which is supported by gentle keyboard arrangements and layers of backing harmonies.
The power of Aeone's arrangements returns in the dramatic build up and release found in the track "Come Away." Vocal layers in the choruses provide a lovely contrast the tremendous solo delivery in the verses. Dance-oriented rhythms meet new age ethereal vocal layers and tribal sounds in the worldly track "The Waterdance," clearly one of the album's standouts. This section of the album concludes with the tender and otherworldly-influenced ballad "Matter Of The Heart." One will want to listen again for Jeff Silverman's tremendous bass line and the extensive layering in the vocal arrangement.
The vocalise of the whispy "In Search Of Kyrie" dominates the arrangement. Listeners are treated to the closing title of The Mists Of Avalon with the inclusion of the sensitively sung and dynamically arranged "I Will Remember You Still," which can also be heard on the original soundtrack reviewed below. Point Of Faith concludes with "The Calling," a Celtic-influenced track that effectively incorporates a stunning lead as well as layers of Aeone's smooth harmonies. Samantha Hunt's Irish fiddle part is notable, contributing significantly to the texture of the track.
Aeone suggests purchasing Point Of Faith through the link to CD STREET at her website. You can also read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album, like the ones that have preceded it is a must listen!
Musical Discoveries: What was the response like to your debut album?
Aeone: The response to The Woman's Touch was and still is rather wonderful. It seemed to strike a chord in a lot of people and enabled me to really gather in a strong and supportive following. Surprisingly not all women! Although Woman is in and of itself primarily about the journey of a woman and all things feminine it seemed to touch a lot of men too which is of course, rather lovely too.
And your mp3.com releases?
The MP3.com releases did fine as well. I was one of those artists that did extraordinarily well indeed at MP3.com before it got overwhelmed by thousands and taken over by the silent monsters of corporation. I would say, it was a wonderful thing and idea to start with for the independent artist and has ended up a rather unsupportive venture. I still continue to get hits and responses from there and don't discount it as a relevant part of marketing one's work on the internet. So one breathes out and moves forward S.!
Since your debut album you have continued to be involved with various video and motion picture productions.
Yes, I have been involved in a number of video and motion pictures projects since the release of Woman's Touch. I have had a great deal of success in writing music for movie trailers and have either scored or had music over the past year or so, amongst which include:
Life or Something Like It, John Q, Finding Forrester, Saving Silverman, Down to Earth, One Night At McCool's , Showtime, The Shipping News, Rabbit Proof Fence, Behind Enemy Lines, Clockstoppers, Dude Where's My Car, Monsters Inc, Enough Charlie's Angels, Lucky Numbers and Rat Race. I've also had a number of pieces of music on TNT's Witchblade which has been very supportive to the artist side of my career.
Was there anything particularly memorable?
A project particularly close to my heart over the past year has been the Etowah River Greenway. The rhythmic "Indira" and uplifting "Anam Cara" both from The Woman's Touch, were chosen to represent the Etowah River Greenway and my voice and music have become a pivotal part of this $25 million project to refurbish and renew the ancient Etowah river in Georgia original home of the Cherokee tribe. Dubbed by many as the nation's first "environmentally friendly urban riverwalk" the project is expected to create a model for other riverside cities throughtout the country. An inspirational video was put together by Liz Cole at Jordan, Jones & Goulding partnering my unique voice and visionary music with Canton's higher view for the Etowah River Greenway.
"Anam Cara" also from The Woman's Touch was part of a lovely compilation of music called Celtic Journey on Sonic Images with other artists such as Sally Oldfield, Alkaemy and Miriam Stockley which you have reviewed at Musical Discoveries.
How did you get involved with the other projects?
I have an agent for my film and tv work and mainly work with Music Junkies for my movie trailer work. Much of the work that comes to me in those and other areas is specifically because someone is looking for my particular unique sound or they are already aware of my music and independently wish to license it or have me write for them. So it comes in all ways really. Some things just come out of the blue through a sort of energetic word of mouth and those things are often the best. The Etowah River project came through the internet and a download that an intern had made who was working at the company doing the video they thought the music was perfect and then spent a couple of weeks trying to find me, the artist! So that was a rather special kismet sort of thing.
Did you contribute finished pieces or just vocal work?
On all of these projects and on the movie trailers-I contribute finished pieces of music-some of which include vocal works, which have included massive layered choral pieces and other times just instrumental work.
The Mists Of Avalon project has been highly acclaimed. How did you get involved with this?
Indeed, the score has been nominated for an Emmy, so I'm very proud indeed of the association and of my involvement. Mists of Avalon was another strange twist of fate really. The book by Marion Zimmer Bradley, as for many people, has been one of my most favourite books of all time.
It has inspired me in so many different ways in terms of my music, the search of what happened that changed the old Matriarchal society to the Patriachal society and my great love of all things to do with myth and magic and of our ancient selves.
I first heard the project was shooting when a friend called and told me and said that I had to get my music or become involved in the project in some way. This was in July 2000 and so I called my agent and she followed up but, the project really was closed at that point-they had chosen the composer and it was all a bit of a brick wall.
What happened then?
Cut to November of the same year and we get a call out of the blue to say that they're now looking for an ethereal, Celtic sounding voice to do the vocal work on the score as the original score had come back from the composer they had first hired and it didn't sound Celtic enough! So my music was put forward and producer Mark Wolper absolutely loved it. The deal was done and I then connected with Lee Holdridge who had replaced two other composers on the project and was now running at full gallop trying to get this epic piece of music written! So it felt like it was meant to be really.
And what was the production process like?
The production process was very interesting. I met with Lee Holdridge several times and as he was so busy with all this writing and we were on a time limit it worked out better all round that I produced and recorded my own vocals. I have my own studio and work with picture and engineer and record my own vocals all the time. So needless to say, I was really happy about this.
Basically I worked by myself on the different cues which is most unusual and had a wonderfully free and creative experience because of it. I performed some essentially ad lib vocalisations and others were as written. We were using the voice as the emotion of Morgaine, played by Julianna Margulies, the key character in the story. Jeff Silverman (Palette Studios) mixed the vocals and we gave the stems back to Lee Holdridge who just took the whole thing to Munich to play when he recorded with the orchestra!
So were you involved during the film production as well?
I didn't get involved in the filming process that was already done and everything I did, as usually happens, was in the post-production process. How nice that would have been!
Were you pleased with the response to the soundtrack?
Yes I was. People really seemed to really love this soundtrack. I have gained some stalwart new followers because of it who have discovered me and my music for the first time. So from my point of view, it was very successful!
What pieces within the soundtrack turn you on the most?
I think my favourite Holdridge cue is "Morgaine's Lament" when Morgaine cannot get back into Avalon and is adrift on the lake. I loved the melody and the haunting Celtic flute and the searing emotion of the vocal then when all seems as it if is lost, Morgaine hears the sound of music coming through the mists from the lakeside and realises it is the nuns from the abbey. Here I sang about a sixty or so layered vocals to create the sound of a beautiful and otherworldly choir. I thought it worked so well with the picture, Lee's music and the voice were so moving. For me at least!
I can't move on without also saying that "I Will Remember You Still" has to be my real favourite. I was so inspired by the whole creative experience and felt that we should have a song to go with the project and so took Lee's wonderful love theme and worked it along side new melodies into this piece. I tried to stay true to the otherworldly feel of the score in my arrangement and production and lyrically stay within the form of ancient Celtic verse. The song was beautifully mixed by Jeff Silverman and were all thrilled with the result. It is on the soundtrack album.
When did you begin work on your latest album?
In many ways "I Will Remember You Still" was a beginning for the next album. It made me want to create something that was very beautiful and uplifting. It's always a daunting thought to being a new body of work as it is quite an undertaking of time energy and spirit! However, when the ideas started forming, I realised that I actually wasn't starting with just one song, I already had a few things either in progress, in thought or just needing a few extra flourishes and a mix.
When I started the process--I actually had about four or five pieces--which put me well on the way. What I did try to do with the writing process was be absolutely free with myself creatively and allow many different ideas in and not edit anything until I felt that I was done. It made for a very inspirational and sometimes rather scary process as there were often moments when I really didn't know what I was doing, or where I was going with a piece of music--almost until it was finished and then I would think, "Oh I see how that works..!" So in a way, there was much growth for me creatively and a whole new way of working too.
The production process took some time. What was it like?
The production process always takes some time. The inspiration is literally like a flash of light and it makes you feel as if you've already finished the song however, it is at that point that the hard work really starts with the honing, arranging, producing and recording of each song! Not to forget the singing too!
I must say that Point of Faith was an absolutely amazing creative process for me. I have been working away in all these different musical fields and it seemed that when I came back to my artist work that I had so much more ease and clarity as to what the production should be and the sound wanted to create for each song and everything really flowed together as one, from song to song.
I essentially played and arranged everything myself--true meglamania at work here--I was working with a massive sample library and so used a real melting pot of sounds in the songs from ethnic instrumentation to lush strings on top of the the grooves. I also used live fiddle on "One Tribe" and "The Calling" to add a woody ethnicity. I sang all the vocals on the album.
Part of my style is the layering of the voice and this album is no exception however, on Point of Faith I have used the voice in different ways in order to portray the emotion of each song. Sometimes the voice is as pure as a choirboy and sometimes it is ravaged and tribal or at times broken or sensual!
Was anyone else involved?
Jeff Silverman's (www.palettemusic.net) creative contribution to the project has been enormous. He is a true genius in terms of mixing (and mastering). As he is himself a musician, he has a really musical sensibility that he brings to his work. Some of the songs were massive in terms of the amount of vocal tracks and the instrumentation and were absolute monsters to mix. It toook a lot of skill for them to find their place. To me, it takes a true master to have brought out all the nuances of this album as the songs were so complex and varied. Jeff made it an art form.
Jeff also co-wrote and co-produced "She Walks With Me" with me and this was a welcome collaboration. As he was involved in mixing the whole whole project, he was very much in touch with the energy and feeling of the work. "She Walks" is a sort of modern madrigal with a really unusual sound and rhythm to it and unique vocal melody. I really love the way it turned out very otherworldly and mystical in a very contemporary way. Jeff also played bass on all the songs and mandolin on "She Walks," quite fabulously I might add!
So how would you characterise the new album--what are the key messages?
The key message of this album is "connection." The idea of finding a connection with your deep self and through that a connection to your God and realising that whatever we do or wherever we go, we are all connected with each other and to nature. In a way, the themes of the songs are also simply about existence and the journey through life itself, the art of just "being"-the things that we deeply feel and sometimes are unable to express because they are too painful and also the wonder of it all. There is definitely something of the ancient coming through that meets something of the future in ourselves and the blend of those sounds and feelings. I would call Point of Faith a spiritual album of ambient inspiration and emotion!
And where did you draw inspiriation for the lyrics?
I love words, the sound and quality and ring of them. I read a tremendous amount and am totally inspired by reading. I can be inspired by anything though in terms of lyrics, it can be one simple emotion that sets me off on a track. I love films and am inspired by films in terms of lyrics as well. In a way, anything that triggers my imagination can be the initial spark.
Having said all that, I not to sit down to write a lyric with a particular subject or title in mind. Words sometimes come to me as I am writing the music and putting the track together. I do tend to work with music and track first and I will put down a rough vocal singing any old thing that comes into my head and sometimes in the stream of consciousness I get the gist of what the song should be about.
There definitely were songs on the album that came in one flow of writing and the words literally poured themselves out onto the page, almost needing to be written. Some of them were very emotional for me: "The Calling" is about my journey through life in a foreign land and the longing for my home and how one keeps going. "Point of Faith" is about the that time in life when all has come to nothing, one is left silent and alone and then there is that moment when you realise that you have yourself and the power in that and of course, when you connect to your deep self and then you connect to your God. In this song, it is only at the end of this great list of comments to herself that "she" realizes that she is actually praying!
"Matter of the Heart" and "The Last Breath" have similarly emotional responses for me. In the end, I suppose any body of work is a reflection of where one is in one's life and any true artist will put all of those emotions and energies into their work. This is what I have endeavoured to do with this album and some of these lyrics are indeed a response to my life.
What about the photography and the artwork? Tell us about the similar colourations with your debut album.
The fact that the front cover of Point of Faith is similar in colouring to "The Woman's Touch" was not intentional. I did work with Sonia Keshishian (www.soniakeshishian.com) again on this project and although we did three different photo shoots to get the different images and ideas for the booklet together, we were not going for a match in colour between the two or a connection! The shot of the sleeping woman lying in the circle on the floor was just so powerful that it was calling out to be the cover and so that was how it happened really.
The photo sessions as always, were a huge challenge. I wanted to create a theme of imagery that matched the music--that had a timeless feel to it but, yet was very accessible and of course, beautiful to look at. I chose to do a 20-page full colour booklet this time and that changes everything as well. Black and white photos can create a moodiness that colour can't. As it is so real, so in a way it was much more challenging.
Anyway, we did one indoor shoot, one amazing shoot up at a fantastic French chateau and then some outside shots in a wooded and mountainous area up in the Los Angeles mountains where we created a lot of these ancient priestess sort of Lord of the Rings type shots! I love Sonia K's work on this project and she has a wonderful way of getting the real energy of a person into a shot. She is very good with women and has a way of finding their true beauty--the inner and the outer-which is a gift.
Alana Coghlan at Random Designs (www.randomdesigns.com) did the amazing artwork for the cd. She melded and blended the shots, overlaying textures and images with embossed celtic symbols and it created this incredible journey in pictures that completely and utterly depicts the music and certainly makes you want to listen to it. Some of the shots I took in England and in many ways are very symbolic to me. We were able to incorporate them into the booklet and so that ancient part of myself is present. I've had an amazing reaction to the artwork. It seems that people are inspired and intrigued with it and see it as it's own work of art, which is a great thing. I definitely think it is a small piece of art!
What led to including all of the imagery and bonus material on the compact disc?
It was just meant to be an added gift of discovery I wanted to give to listeners and also trying to add another layer of interest to the project. There were also so many really lovely photos left from the shoots that we didn't use that it was nice to find a place for them. We also put the booklet photo spreads in there so that people can see them on their computer screens in a different way and it looks like a sort of "the making of Point of Faith." Plus ready made mp3s and a link to my website. So it's another whole journey and experience for those who wish to take it.
There are indeed some different styles of music on it. How would you describe them?
I wouldn't really describe the music as having different "styles" but rather, different themes. The idea is that you is on a journey and that the experience moves you through these different themes and moods, carrying you from one emotion to another. Sometimes the music is almost thundering in its quality with massive layered vocals and rhythm and ometimes it comes down to a place of absolute quietness and peace with just the clear and pure voice. In a way, our journey through life is full of different themes. There are moments when we feel sensual and there are moments when we feel tribal and there are also moments when feel in a place of deep peace or indeed deep pain.
These are the themes of Point of Faith-the consistent thing that carries you through is the voice. It is the voice that leads you through these feelings--from raging, tribal woman to the pure and ethereal to the sensual-there is also a connection in the sounds used and in the production that links these themes together. "One Tribe" and "Waterdance" have a distinctly tribal feel, whereas, "Last Breath","The Singing Cloud" and "In Search of Kyrie" take you upwards into the lands of the ethereal.
There is of course, within all my work a Celtic influence. I am not a purist and the closest that I come to that is probably in "The Calling" when the fiddle player Samantha Hunt plays "The Broken Pledge" against my vocal and yet it is present in some form I all the songs. Sensuality and groove come into play in "4 Chambers" and of course, "Come Away" where we deal with the feelings of our earthly bodies! There is a lot of ambience and even in a more contemporary sounding song like "Matter of the Heart." I'm still using ethnic instrumentation behind it, which pulls it slightly away from the norm.
Tell us about the vocal work on the new album. How was that all done?
The vocal work was a real labour of love in so many different ways. It really is hard sometimes producing one's own vocals and at others a blessing. I do spend a long long time on vocals and make sure that each phrase fulfills the emotion of the melody and the lyric. This is rather a painstaking way to go about things but, it is my way!
I tend to work in sections on songs, going for a verse first and creating a mood and then singing the choruses last. I build harmonies around these sections and often come back over a period of days to finish the vocals and fine tune them. However, it has to be said that each song dictates a somewhat different vocal process and approach as the emotion is different. If it is a beautiful and quiet song I have to find that place in myself and my voice and not push too hard in order to get the emotion across.
In the pieces where I'm literally doing the tribal keening, I have to find that place in myself that is that "tribal woman" in order to do it. So to me it's very much like acting and embodying these different emotions with the voice whilst allowing the self as intuitive as possible with it all.
The layered vocal work is painstaking. On a song like "Umbra Nihili" where I am literally making my voice into a choir I sang about 150 different vocals. Layering up each harmony and counterpart until it became this massive living entity! I always think it must be very funny to watch, especially when I'm singing all the low "male" sounding vocals!
On other songs, I used a sample library that I put together of my voice. I sang the sound "Aah" to each note in my vocal range and layered it up to create a beautifully breathy tone and now I have this available to put behind lead vocals as textures which sounds gorgeous as I can create these amazing breathy chords. I also still just stack up my voice in the ethereal layers. This sounds particularly effective against the "Aah library"!
And the instrumental arrangements: who was involved and how was it all put together?
As I mentioned earlier, I am really the sole proprietor of this project! I arranged all of the songs except for "She Walks With Me," which was done with Jeff Silverman. As I'm not giving the songs out to be arranged by someone else, the arrangements and production tend to be one and the same thing and evolve together as opposed to separately.
I am often inspired by a particular sound even in the writing process. The arrangement of a song starts very early on with me. I work on a track first, building and layering sounds, then comes the lyric and then the vocal. If I am going to use an outside musician then, I will record that part just before the mixing process.
I would like to mention that working with Jeff Silverman on the mixing process was a creative experience itself. All the songs were mixed in Pro Tools, of which he is an absolute master. These days we have the ability to really push things creatively in a mix as we work solely in the digital domain; nothing is finished until you say it is.
It allows for the most enormous freedom right up until you the final bounce down to cd. Things can be moved and shifted and changed in order to create a greater piece of music and this has become a really inspirational part of the music making for me.
What has the reaction to the new material been like?
The reaction to the new material has been really quite amazing. I have been so involved and driven over the past many months putting this all together that in a way it's been interesting to step back and see how it affects others. People seemed to have been very moved on quite a deep level by the work and find it in some way quite transforming.
There is of course, quite a deep spiritual note to the work and perhaps at this time, there is a need in the world for something that leaves you with a sense of peace and beauty and in many ways, this is the reaction that I have been getting. It seems to help people find that place in themselves and a moment where they can visit those experiences of their own in their life and feel them and move them them and go onwards. So I would say it has been a rather beautiful and loving response and an enormous reward for me as an artiste, for which I am quite humbled.
Will you do some promotional video shoots to support it?
It's early days yet with the cd so not sure in which direction it is going to take me. Having said that the answer to the question is "yes" I will be doing a promotional video as and when we get to that point!
What are your plans--where are you going to go next?
My plans at present are to get this new body of work out there into the world. I am still working on my movie trailers and edging my way into films and tv. I am definitely looking forward to working on some different projects outside of my own artiste one and my own musical work. It is always rewarding and interesting working on something that didn't all come from you!
I do have some interesting things in the works--so watch this space!
And what about the web-is it working for you?
The internet is mostly working well for me it seems to have it's own natural ebb and flow. I think I managed to hit the crest of a wave rather than getting drowned by one and so have built a strong and loyal following because of it. With each project my amazing webmaster Paca Thomas (www.pacaworks.com) has built a new element to my website (www.aeone.com) and so it has become a really intriguing place for people to visit.
There are always new things to discover and new ways to market oneself however, it amazes me how many people have found their way through to the music and the site and that is a gift.
Mists Of Avalon Review
The soundtrack from TNT’s lavish production of The Mists Of Avalon is a glorious creation all its own. Lush, romantic, beautiful and magical are all apt descriptions of this epic new work from award-winning composer Lee Holdridge. Holdridge has created an utterly captivating portrait of the mystical world of Camelot. King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin are all brought vibrantly to life in this wondrous music.
Also featured is Loreena McKennitt’s main title song The Mystic’s Dream. McKennitt is a multi-platinum selling artist known for her own voyages into the Celtic sounds of ages past. The Mystic’s Dream, from her 1994 CD The Mask And Mirror, provides the perfect complement to Holdridge’s symphony orchestra and choir.
Finally, Aeone’s song "I Will Remember You Still," with a haunting lyric written for the main love theme from the score, brings this musical telling of one of the most loved novels of our time, to a close. Listeners will also find Aeone's voice included a number of the other tracks included on this compact disc.
The Mists Of Avalon is the story of legendary Camelot, as seen through the eyes of the women who wielded power behind King Arthur’s throne. Huston plays Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, who tries to preserve the pagan beliefs of Avalon. Margulies portrays Morgaine, Arthur’s sister, who becomes Viviane’s pawn in the quest for control of Camelot. Allen plays Morgause.
For those who have loved Marion Zimmer Bradley’s epic novel and those who have been swept away by TNT’s spectacular telling of the tale, this soundtrack offers everyone the chance to relive the adventure and recapture the magic.--Graham Lubin (Celestial Voices)
Clearly Aeone's Point Of Faith and her contributions to The Mists Of Avalon should be investigated further. Aeone suggests ordering the album directly from her own website. But you can also listen to soundbites, read further reviews and order the albums from amazon.com. Visitors are encouraged to read our earlier feature on Aeone's music as well.
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