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Musical Discoveries editors were introduced to Persephone's Dream by the band's first vocalist Judilynn Niedercorn who is now with Speed Limit 35 (review). Our keen interest in the band's music led to quickly establishing contact with Rowen Poole and exploring MoonSpell (Self-released, PD25155-2, 2000) and now-deleted debut album Evening Mirage (Self-released, 1997) in great depth. Our feature was updated in November 2001 with a review of the band's third album, Opposition. Best described as a metal-edged progressive rock band with a stunning female vocalist, the band's albums are highly recommended—all worth a cross-country journey, a must listen!
The band's unique sound will certainly interest fans of Edenbridge, Charisma, Fula and October Project. Our album reviews are joined here by an extensive and exclusive interview with all of the band members. Our article reveals the band's formation, the artists' musical influences and current direction. Click on the images to visit the band's website.
Persephone's Dream began in late 1993 when Rowen Poole met Chris Siegle at a Thanksgiving party. Rowen told us, "During the course of a conversation, Chris found out I played bass and guitar, and I found out he wanted to learn how to play bass. His family gave him a new bass for Christmas, and I told him that I could teach him how to play it since I had been a bassist for over ten years before picking up the guitar. By May of 1994, Chris and I were writing our own original music together."
Rowen continued, " I think it was in the summer of 1994 that Chris and I realized we both wanted to record our own music. Personally, I had always wanted to work in a studio band. After having met Chris and realizing that we were headed in the same direction musically, this idea really began to take shape. Chris and I started to invest in studio recording equipment and began building what would eventually become StarGlider Studios." He told us, "Our main goal was just to have the ability to record all the songs we were coming up with. But, by early 1995, we started thinking about doing more - like releasing a CD of our music."
The band needed a vocalist and thought it would be interesting to have a female singer. Rowen told us, "At the time, female vocalists were not very popular and we didn't know of any in the prog field. Our search lasted two years and many auditions until we finally gave up and decided to do instrumentals. However, as luck would have it, when we stopped looking, Chris came across Judilynn Neidercorn on the internet. We exchanged emails, phone calls and tapes, and eventually it was decided she would do the vocals on our first CD, Evening Mirage."
Evening Mirage was released November 1997 but neither Rowen nor Chris were sure of what to do next and given the time, effort and money expended in the project, decided to take a break from musical activities and returned to their individual lives. Rowen told us, "As with all things related to being a musician, this is more of an addiction than a hobby. By March 1998, we were back together, wanting to write and record new music. Our intentions this time were to make an instrumental album. We wrote and recorded three new pieces of music." He continued, "In early May I came across an ad in the local music magazine for a drummer looking for studio work. This is where we met Ed Wiancko. He came in, listened to the music we were doing, liked it, and decided to lay down the drum tracks for them. This was a great addition because, up until this time, we had been using a drum machine."
Evening Mirage. The first album from Persephone's Dream is no longer generally available but, accompanied by Judilynn Niedercorn's stunning vocal work, is worth seeking out. Recorded at StarGlider Studios between January 1995 and June 1997, the album was digitally mixed and mastered by Peter Kirk Hopper at MasterView SoundCrafts Recording Studio in Ithaca, NY just up the road from Musical Discoveries' headquarters. The CD is comprised of eleven tracks and is accompanied by a lovely booklet. The songs on Evening Mirage are best characterised as song-based progressive rock. Lead and backing vocals drench the album with soaring passages of vocalise layers often supporting the guitar-based instrumentals. The use of a drum machine is not overly obvious. Judilynn's performance demonstrates her incredible vocal clarity and range within the first two tracks of the album. Some might hear a bit of Annie Haslam in her vocal delivery.
Judilynn told us, "I have been singing as long as I can remember, but started singing in clubs etc when I was 19. I did lots of acoustic stuff, mostly. Over the years, I also sang with some groups that performed classical music. I worked in the chorus of an opera. The accompanist (Harold Brown) of the Jerome Hines, the lead in the opera, was staying with us during the rehearsals and performance. He noted my voice as I was humming around the house, and made me sing for him. He insisted I get professional training."
She continued, "When sitting backstage during the performance of the opera, waiting on our cues, I was talking with two of the ladies in the chorus wondering what on earth to do about getting training. One of the ladies said "I have heard you, and I will help you." Her name is Cynthia Rojas, and she studied professionally with Elvira de Hidalgo, who was the teacher of Maria Callas. I studied with Cynthia for about three years before she moved back to Chile. At first she made me stop singing all together unless she was with me. She retrained my voice and I found out that I am a leggiero coloratura, the highest most agile vocal type."
Judilynn's training and vocal ability contribute significantly to the lush sound of Evening Mirage yet the instrumental arrangements of the relatively long tracks are certain to enthrall progressive music enthusiasts as well. "Image" is one of the standout tracks of the album. Here acoustic and electric guitar perfectly support a stunning soaring vocal performance, a most notable melody and gently driving rhythm. While we have nothing but positive things to say about the band's debut album, they have asked us to focus our comments on the latest release, MoonSpell.
Chris and Rowen decided to take two of the new tracks to a local studio for automated mixdown, just to see what they would sound like. These two tracks were what was to become "Doorways" and "Worry Beads." Rowen told us, "While at the studio, Chris and I found a business card stuck in the corner of a wall with Karin Nicely's name and number on it, saying 'Vocalist Available.' It had obviously been there for a while. Again, when you quit looking, things often seem to appear. We figured we had nothing to lose and contacted Karin. She was interested in hearing what we did musically so I sent her a copy of Evening Mirage. A couple days later she called to say she liked our music so I sent her a tape of "Millennium Moon" along with the lyrics for it."
Rowen continued, "Two weeks later she came into our studio and recorded the vocal tracks to "Millennium Moon." The vocals were superb and her style fit us perfectly. We immediately asked Karin if she'd be a part of our musical endeavors. By early fall, the four of us had written and recorded four new songs and it was apparent that we were heading for another CD release. By February of 1999, we had completed the entire MoonSpell CD."
The band are currently about to begin recordings sessions for their next release entitled Opposition which they hope to have out by mid-2001. The band have also added two new people to their lineup: John Tallent on percussion (he actually appears on the MoonSpell track "Earth Dreams") and Kim Finney, taking over keyboard/synth duties from me. The band's current lineup is: Rowen Poole (guitars, lyrics), Chris Siegle (bass), Karin Nicely (vocals, lyrics), Ed Wiancko (drums), Kim Finney (keyboards/synths), John Tallent (percussion).
We asked the band about their backgrounds prior to Persephone's Dream. Rowen told us, "I began my musical career as a drummer when I was about seven. I played drums up until I was in eighth grade when I was asked to join a band that already had a drummer but needed a bassist. I also played flute for several years in high school. After switching from drums to bass, I played with several different rock bands through high school and beyond. I played in the local scene as a bass player up through 1981 when I decided to go to college and pursue my desire of becoming an astronomer. I retired from band life and dropped out of the scene altogether until I met Chris twelve years later in 1993."
He continued, "I did, however, continue to play on my own constantly. Somewhere around 1985, during my "retirement", I began seriously playing the guitar. In 1988, I took a class in college on computer generated music and synthesizers. I ended up getting myself a synthesizer and taught myself how to play it. For most of PD's existence, I've been both guitarist and keyboardist, but now that we have Kim, I am primarily concentrating on guitar. I would, however, like to continue my work with synthesizers, and it is quite possible both Kim and I will be doing some keyboard work together, especially live sometime."
Kim told us, "I studied classical piano from the time I was eight. I also played classical violin and was a member of my high school symphony orchestra from age 11 to age 18. During this time I achieved All-Region orchestra three times in succession. Persephone's Dream is my first venture into the world of Prog Rock, and my journey into the world of synths."
Chris told us, "Music became a force for me during grade school when my parents used to play records on the phonograph. Although I was very young at the time, the melodies are still in my heart and mind. I always hummed the bass lines to songs even before I knew what a bass guitar was. One day while listening to someone's boom box on the school bus, I found myself concentrating a little bit more on this particular bass track. The song was "Jacob's Ladder" by Rush. This became my adventure into the prog realm. My music career began with Persephone's Dream - although it was originally called Bluscyrb (pronounced "Blue Skurb")."
Ed told us, " Everything I know and use with Persephone's Dream is based on the things I learned in my high school years. I've played in many different bands over the years. Some were purely cover bands, one was even a country group that opened for Wynonna Judd at the Starlake Amphitheater - a huge local venue here in Western Pennsylvania. Right now, I also play with a group called On Beyond Zebra which is a completely different style than PD. I've always liked variety."
John told us, "I first started playing drums in late 1966. My father purchased a snare drum for my birthday and said, "Here, this is what you wanted ... now play something!" Well, I flailed away for a few minutes, completely upsetting the neighbors, when my father snatched the sticks out of my hands and said, "You've got no rhythm at all, you'll never be a drummer." To me, that was a challenge. I cut grass for all my neighbors the next summer and bought myself a drum kit. The set was a 'Dixie' three piece and it was white sparkle with one cheesy cymbal. Aas a matter of fact, I still have that cymbal and I use it every time I play - it is a seriously distressed cymbal, just ask anybody in PD. Two years after that snare drum came into my life I would play my drums for any reason." He continued, "My last project was playing percussion in support of two very talented female rockers—Leslie Mitchell and Becca Smith—here in Pittsburgh. I did enjoy those shows, but PD came calling.
Karin told us about her background, "I come from a very musical, mostly-Welsh family, so I am simply carrying on a tradition that goes back many generations. My mother is an exceptional vocalist who studied voice at the Baldwin Wallace and Westminster conservatories, but who especially has a deep love for folk, rock, and many other musical genres. Through her, my grandmother, and my uncles, I was exposed to everything from Peter, Paul, and Mary to Rachmaninov to The Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix at a very young age." Karin continued, "Throughout high school, I performed in musicals, talent shows, and rock bands as well as in Honors and District Choruses. At 17, I did my first studio recording. I minored in voice at Westminster College and studied classical and music theatre with a private voice teacher for four years. Since then, I've sung with many types of bands, including original rock, jazz/rock, goth, and industrial techno, and have done solo and choral work (church). I even performed and recorded a bit of country/folk music in Nashville. I was just about to stop looking for another band and do strictly studio work when Rowen contacted me and I first heard Persephone's Dream's music. It's been a fantastic creative outlet ever since, and I view this music as the culmination of all that I've experienced in the past."
Karin told us about her earliest musical experiences. "I remember scrambling out of my grandmother's arms when I was about two years old and running up to the stage where my mother had just finished performing folk music for a local charity gathering. Someone held me up so I could reach the microphone, and I sang on and on about some of our horses on the farm and who knows what all. They had to drag me away from the mic so they could tear down."
She continued, "I remember my mother taking me to a smoky, dark, crowded place to hear my uncles' band when I was three or four. We sat way in the back on the floor, and I stood up so I could see my elder uncle singing to some loud, hard-driving, distorted music—my other uncle was playing the guitar—while pretend-stirring what I later learned was dry ice in a black cauldron. I wanted to get up and dance like some of the other people were, but I was too shy. I thought right then, though, that it was the coolest place I had ever been."
Karin reflected, "I really think that these early experiences, among many others like them, were so strong in my mind that although I was terribly shy, I pushed myself to perform as soon as I had the opportunity in school and beyond. I did my first vocal solo in front of hundreds of people when I was about 14. I joined my first rock band—to enter a talent show, which we won—when I was 15. I sang everything from Joan Jett to Berlin to Pat Benatar in fire-hall clubs, pizza joints, and drama club talent shows. My classical and musical theater training began during these years as well, basically to help me get a lead in the high school musical—which I did."
She continued, "When I got to college, I had my first experience at working with original music and participating in the writing process with a band called Mirage. We were a very eclectic mix of musicians—mostly music majors or minors—who did an odd amalgam of jazz/rock. When I transferred to another school to finish my bachelor's degree in Professional Writing, I joined my first industrial techno band, which led to a rather goth band, which led to a basic alternative rock band called The Critics, with which I played in all the quintessential Pittsburgh clubs like the Electric Banana, The Decade, Nick's Fat City, and The Graffiti.
Karen commented on joining Persephone's Dream, "I had become frustrated with looking for yet another band and was thinking of sticking strictly to studio work and choral singing. However, Rowen e-mailed me after having seen my business card in a local studio where I had done some backing vocals. I found the Evening Mirage CD that he sent me to be very interesting, a refreshing style of music that I thought I would very much like to work with. I worked out the vocals with Rowen's lyrics on "Millenium Moon," the others liked what I did with it, and the rest is history."
MoonSpell. The latest release from Persephone's Dream features thirteen tracks spanning a variety of different sounds. Listeners will be immediately drawn into the recording with opening tracks "Millennium Moon" and "Evident Dreams" with rich instrumentals and Karin Nicely's stunningly clear vocal work, not terribly dissimilar from Judilynn's sound except in the vastness of her power, especially notable in the standout track "Evident Dreams." Here Karin soars well above the instrumentals from the beginning of the track reaching incredible heights in the final third of the song. A natural progression from the band's debut is evident from the outset yet departures occur in middle of the CD. An immediately notable harder metal-influenced sound is evident from the outset. Bass grooves will delight fans of Chris Squire (Yes) and Jon Camp (Renaissance) and the real drum parts add significant depth to the band's sound.
We asked Persepone's Dream to tell us about their favourite artists. The band members' responses include a broad variety including many of those reviewed at Musical Discoveries! Rowen told us, "My favorite artists are probably Rush, Yes, Blue Oyster Cult, Queensryche, Foghat and, more recently bands like Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery and, especially, Ozric Tentacles." He continued, "I am also a big fan of Steely Dan. Over the past several years I've been listening to the Tentacles quite a bit along with their various offshoots like Eat Static and Nodens Ictus. I am very interested these days in this type of music which is a melding of electronic synthesis and the heavier aspects of rock music. However, my interests are fairly wide and I like a lot of different things."
Kim told us, "My favorite bands/artists are Yes, Genesis, Dream Theater, Ozric Tentacles, Eat Static, Rush, Yanni, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, Sting, Maire Brennan, Clannad, Tangerine Dream. I also listen to Tom Petty, Madonna's newer music and forms of Electronica music."
Chris told us, "Right now I like Fates Warning, Ozric Tentacles, Mystic Force and Rage Against the Machine. My all time favorites range from obscure 80s pop rock to metal. I find myself listening to Ozric Tentacles more than any other band. I guess it's because they have this edgy space rock thing going. However, put metal in front of me and I will never say no."
Ed told us, "My favorite artists—ranked from most current to least current—are Soul Coughing, Cake, Third Eye Blind (believe it or not,) Space Hog (they rock,) Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, Queen, Metallica, Rush—I made a water color drawing of Neil's drums when I was five."
John told us, "The Animals, the Young Rascals, Smokey Robinson, The Beatles, The James Gang, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, Bette Midler, Genesis, Gentle Giant, The Strawbs, Zappa, Kate Smith, Peter Gabriel, Dan Fogelburg, Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips, Kate Bush, Renaissance, Annie Haslam, October Project, Julia Fordham, Tim Finn, and on and on. Most recently I've been listening to Julia Fordham quite a bit."
Karin told us, "Just a few of my favorites are the Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Babes in Toyland, Nitzer Ebb, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, The Pixies, Romeo Void, Primus, Annie Lennox, The Normals, Ministry, KMFDM, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Powerman 5000, Rob Zombie, and so on. I also listen to a lot of classical, celtic, and middle eastern music. Lately, I seem to be playing an Ali Kahn CD quite a bit." Karin would certainly enjoy Karnataka.
We asked Karin about how she developed her vocal style and she told us, "I would say that my vocal style evolved from all the different types of music I have sung and/or listened to. Classical training has helped immensely, but singing in so many types of bands has really helped me develop my own vocal sound rather than attempting to fit into a certain genre. Harmonizing with my mother from a young age and participating in things like a capella choirs, too, helped to develop my ear and listen for all the possibilities within each chord. I enjoy making this all come together, however, with both types of music I especially enjoy singing: the harder-edged music and the more spacey/haunting stuff."
MoonSpell is an ambitious undertaking that builds on the members' individual influences. While Karin's lead and harmoney vocal work binds together many of the tracks with a common sound, the instrumentals drift into more experimental territory with sound effects adding to the total progressive experience. We were reminded of various soundtracks when working our way through the material. And the metal-edged guitar work adds significant texture aligning the band's sound with a common direction being taken in progressive music today. "Euphoria" is a wonderful blend of progressive and heavy-metal music drifting back and forth effectively between the genres. A 12-minute experimental percussion-laced instrumental entitled "Earth Dreams" is dramatically different from many of the other tracks on the album and requires a degree of patience to properly appreciate.
"Electronic Exotic" captured our attention on first listen thinking that for some reason our cable-connected computer was trying to dial into an alternative ISP. The song opens with that all to familiar modem-to-modem connection sound, but quickly transforms to a sound similar to the UK's Fula (review). Karin's stunning vocals climb well above the thick guitar and drum arrangements with incredible power.
We asked the band about how other artists may have influenced the sound of Persephone's Dream. Rown told us, "I am interested in the melding of electronic and hard rock. I also very much enjoy writing and playing the more ethereal, spacey type of music. I'm not too into Blues at all. I have always been a fan of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, Ozric Tentacles, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, and many others. I am sure you can hear their influences in our music but I would hope that we have developed our own sound and style by now."
Kim added, "Rush has probably influenced many of the guitar and bass ideas. And Ozric Tentacles—the mood and some of the sound effects work well with our music, and for their complexity of melodies."
Chris told us, "Since most of us grew up in the 70s and 80s, PD pulls from many different styles. Take a musical blender and add some of these ingredients: Rush, The Cure, and Pink Floyd. Puree. Spoon off the sides and add a lovely female voice. Mix well. Grind in some pepper for the full, rich and heavy distorted guitar. Serve chilled and garnish with mint leaf. That's PD!"
Ed added, "What influences my playing the most is anything with groove. For the longest time I struggled to get groove. People would try to explain it to me but it never translated until I just found groups like the Chili Peppers and Primus and played many times along with their music. Other great groove influences of late would be Soul Coughing, man that CD rocks! The other thing I like is flow ... for things to flow into one another. This is like when I'm playing 4 measures of a 3/4 passage and Rowen and the rest are playing 3 measures of a 4/4 passage... then we all land together on the downbeat of the next measure! That, to me, is cool. That's the prog side of me, but the groove side is very important as well."
John told us, "The extensive list above will give you a good indication as to how we may have been influenced. Actually, the whole world around is our influence!"
Karin concluded, "While I'm sure the bands I listen to influence me somewhat, I really just listen to the music of each new song as it's forming to see what I hear with it in my head. While I may not like some of the bands the others have mentioned as influences, I definitely like what comes out when we all start putting the pieces together! I hear so many different elements in our music, but I think they have all combined to form something very unique."
We asked the band to explain the various sequences they go through when writing their music. Rowen began, "Persephone's Dream music is written by all of us, almost always via jams during practice sessions. We are a very good jam band. None of us write on an individual and isolated basis and bring stuff into practices other than the occasional set of lyrics." He continued, "This is always a group effort from start to finish. We record most of every practice, especially when we come up with something we all like, take tapes home and listen to them, then come back the next day and rework, add and/or delete parts until we all feel the song is finished."
Rowen continued, "Some of the best pieces of equipment we have are quite a few whiteboards. When we come up with things we like, we write them down on these whiteboards as "Pattern A," "Pattern B," etc. Then we arrange, add, delete and rearrange all the letters until the song feels cool—and that's it. This is how we write music."
He concluded, "The only thing that is not a whole band thing is the lyric writing. This falls to Karin and myself only. Sometimes we write individually, and sometimes some of the lyrics we write together. This is not an exclusive thing, just that no one else in the band either wants to do it or has done it. Karin and I both enjoy writing lyrics. In any case, Karin originates all of the vocal melodies herself. I can't sing at all. If I happen to write a set of lyrics that Karin uses in a song, it's her melody and arrangement all the way."
Rowen told us about the studios and staff, "We have our own recording studio where we record all of our music ourselves. We produce everything ourselves too. We have used outside studios for mixing and mastering in the past—simply because they had automated equipment and we didn't—but that is no longer the case. Our new album will be totally self-written, self-produced, self-recorded and self-released." He added, "If a record label were to come along and offer us a decent and fair deal, we'd think about it. We'd still do pretty much everything ourselves except release our CDs, though."
"Learning Curve" is one of the standout tracks on MoonSpell. The song opens with a light acoustic guitar instrumental supporting a tender ballad-like vocal introduction. It then builds to a powerful progressive masterpiece with Karin's powerful vocals soaring way above the thick guitar-based arrangement. Additional vocal effects contribute to the lovely texture of the piece especially in the chorus. Perfectly joining "Learning Curve" is the hard rocking "Alternative Reality." Karin's soaring vocal part accompanied by heavy metal guitar work reminded us extensively of Edenbridge when listening to the track.
We were especially drawn to the tender vocal work in the various facets of the progressive rocker "Full Moon." The various movements within the track clearly illustrate this side of the band's sound especially as it blends seamlessly into the instrumental "Apogee," the intro to the band's progressive standout track "Altar of Desire." Vocals and instrumentals are contrasted between tender and symphonic to processed and heavy metal sounds.
Persephone's Dream members have careers outside the music as well. Rowen told us, "I work as a software engineer for the government, doing statistical programming and analysis on juvenile delinquency and crime. My first love is astronomy but there are very few jobs available in that field. Programming has always been a hobby and I am lucky enough to have a job getting paid for my hobby (other than music). Besides, it does help support the band and all the efforts we make within it. I mean, I'd love to make a living doing music but that's probably unrealistic."
Kim works as as an Interior Designer at an architectural firm and Chris is a computer programmer for a well-respected law firm. Ed does software quality assurance and supports different clients that use a particular software document management system. He added, "I wish I could say I do nothing but music ... perhaps some day ... but bands are much more fragile and the music industry is so much more fickle than the corporate world that I will probably have to be satisfied living a dual life indefinitely." John works for a corporation in Pittsburgh as a photographer and image specialist, among many other things."
And Karin does a lot of freelance promotional writing as well as editing and proofreading for several different clients, including various international publishing companies. She added, "My primary job, though, is being a full-time mom!"
She told us about the band's live performances. "I think our live shows are constantly evolving. We have so many creative ideas for them, but it all costs money, of course. As far as the audience's reaction, I've been very pleased with all the reviews and fans' comments we've received."
MoonSpell's gently rocking "Worry Beads" includes both tender and powerful vocals and a gentler rocking guitar and leads the way to the stunning and standout closing track "Doorways," a moving progressive rock track illustrating the full range of Karin Nicely's vocal virtuousity. Sensually evocative tenderness is contrasted by the artist's powerful soaring vocal excursions. It must be wonderful to see performed live.
We were surprised by the wide spread differences in the band members' responses to our question about how their musical careers have been influenced by the internet. Rowen told us, "Personally, I don't feel as though the internet has influenced my musical career at all. In terms of promotion, it's a great tool and it is useful to have in order to make yourself available for someone looking for you. However, the internet is way too large to be really effective. There are so many bands and so many websites, someone has to know not only who you are but how to find you on the net. It's especially good for communicating with our fans from around the world, though. But, they know who we are and how to get in touch with us via the net."
Kim told us, "I feel the internet allows us to be more accessible to a wider audience. In addition, we have the ability to correspond on a faster level with our fans. We've been very lucky in the fact that several on-line radio stations have been willing to play our music, unlike many local radio stations who do not deign to listen. I feel that our website will help both new and current fans to keep in touch with the band's activities, and will generate more interest in our music."
Chris told us, "I don't think the internet has done as much as our personal interaction with our fans. I think that fan clubs are the best way to gain momentum. But you have to send out information regularly."
Ed added, "The internet has been the single most important tool in spreading the word and gaining new fans for PD. However, that is about as far as the return on investment goes, unfortunately. We deal with a certain distributor that has done a *good* job spreading the word but a *bad* job at writing us the checks even though they tell us that they are "in the mail." We are currently looking for new distribution. Hint, hint to all you distributors out there! I hope people enjoy the new website. Audre has done a great job with it and if the art gets people interested in the music and vice versa, then all the better."
John told us, "First of all, the internet had no bearing on my joining the band. Our website will bring us fans. How many? Who can say? The more the word gets out about our music, the more important the website will become. The promotion of PD through the internet should and will become a harmonious relationship."
Karin concluded, "The internet has allowed us to promote the music globally and to interact with media personnel in so many different countries that I'm sure we would not otherwise have had as much contact with. It has been frustrating to not receive payment for so much of our music, but the exposure really is wonderful."
Opposition. The third album by Persephone's Dream, entitled Opposition (Persephone's Dream (USA) PD91964-2, 2001) is a progressive work comprised of twelve tracks. While instrumentally strong driven and somewhat harder than the band's earlier recordings, lovely guitar parts and symphonic keyboard textures lay the ground for Karin Nicely's soaring vocal passages. Crystalline vocals are mixed way up, right where Musical Discoveries' readers like them.
Stylistically rich, the album opens with Karin's bluesy vocal part meeting hard rocking guitars and backing vocals in "Bevel." Gentler "Kindred Soil" is softly and evocatively sung with various effects, percussion and lush electric guitar. We enjoyed Kim's tenderly narrated spoken vocal part and Karin's vocalise. "Puppetmaster" is clearly one of the album's standouts, with its guitar-laced and driving melody perfectly complimenting the soaring vocals.
Somewhat slower, "Endymion" resumes where "Puppetmaster" leaves off, dominated by rich keyboard effects and crystalline vocals. Rhythmic elements, supported by guitar licks and crisp percussion, work very nicely. "Hyperspace Minefield" is a rockier number with thick instrumentals, screaming guitar bits and layers of vocals. In contrast, "Dreamcatcher Static" is much whispier in spots and rocklingly anthemic in others. Soaring vocalise adds a lovely texture to the instrumentals.
Metal-edged guitars dominate the arrangements for the rocking tune "TV Talk Show," while layers of vocal are more seriously—almost spoken—sung. We especially enjoyed the rocking percussion and soaring vocal elements used within the track. Not quite a ballad and not quite a blues track, "10th Moon" is a gentle rocker with instrumentals slightly overpowering vocals, except in the quietest passages; Rowen's guitar part and Karin's supporting crystalline harmonies are tremendous.
The progressive rock track "Agent of Chaos" is another standout track. Karin's vocal soars above and whispers below a variety of tempo and dramatic instrumental changes; Ed Wiancko's crisp percussion and Rowen's guitar licks are especially notable. John Tallent's whistles and percussion are clearly featured in the melodic instrumental passages in "Far Side Of Eden." Sung evocatively and sensually with layers of Karin's vocal harmonies, the lovely progressive ballad—likely the most gentle on the album—is certain to delight Musical Discoveries' readers.
The instrumentally "Stormchaser" is a moody track with quiet textures balanced by harder-edged guitar and percussion passages and frequent tempo changes; vocal passages recall themes of the album's earlier tracks. Nicely's soaring crystalline vocals and Wiancko's especially crisp percussion are most notable within the epic. The album closes with the melodic progressive ballad "Serene Sea." Dramatically dominated by Kim Finney's keyboards, Karin's soaring vocal lines blend perfectly with the arrangements. The rhythm section and guitars compliment the gentle sound of the closing number.
Persephone's Dream certainly have a very bright future. The care that Rowen Poole and Chris Siegle have taken to select excellent classically trained vocalists for their debut and followup albums will pay the band excellent dividends. Their albums MoonSpell and Opposition have reached widespread critical acclaim internationally. You can order Moonspell from amazon.com here. Certainly some of the finest albums we've heard in the last year, it should be explored further. Worth a cross-country journey, it is clearly a must listen!
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