Jocelyn Montgomery

Lux Vivens: the Music of Hildegard von Bingen

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The teaming of former Miranda Sex Garden vocalist/fiddler Jocelyn Montgomery with the bleak auteur-of-darkness David Lynch might seem inaccessible in theory. But the duo's startlingly lovely modern take on 12th century abbess Hildegard von Bingen's music on Lux Vivens is remarkably alive and endlessly compelling. Lynch's industrial drone and bizarre sound samples, from gentle waves to crashing thunder, aren't that far removed from his Eraserhead score. His brooding tones suggest funeral marches, chirping birds in flight, battles between Heaven and Hell, landscapes devoid of light, and percolating medieval stews. One can't emphasize enough just how beautifully Montgomery's tender, yearning voice works with Lynch's stoic sonic base. She comes across like a sweeter and more religious Sinéad O'Connor, without the latter's pop sense. Montgomery almost seems the perfect mixture of O'Connor and the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser; equal parts inner strength and angelic levity. Indeed, it would be hard to overstate the otherworldly beauty of Montgomery's stunning, nearly transcendental vocal work here. It seems both Montgomery and Lynch found equal muses in each other, if only because their highly contrasting musical styles clash and weave together so magically over the course of the album. Completely accessible, and brimming with emotion and style, Lux Vivens is an absolute aural treat that both sounds wonderful as background music, and rewards intensely close listening. The title says it all, really: the duo's music is a kind of living light. Gorgeous.

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