Earth Mirror

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Earth Mirror Review

by Paul Simpson

British duo and Coil disciples Hawthonn make dark, dream-sourced music somewhere in between ritual ambient, drone-folk, and ethereal wave. The pair draw from occult history, esoteric philosophy, witchcraft, and various literary influences; member Phil Legard published An Excellent Booke of the Arte of Magicke, which includes the first edition of a magical manuscript written in the 16th century. Phil is also a university lecturer on sound design and electro-acoustic music, and the duo incorporate transformed natural sounds, such as cracking ice, into their haunting, funereal dirges. "Drowned Light" opens the album with a procession of vast, glowing organ that gradually becomes more doom-laden, unfolding with Layla Legard's drawn-out vocals and punctuated by manipulated bursts that end up as explosive squirts. "Dream Cairn" features cello playing by Briony Charvas, but it's manipulated so that it lurches like a ship rocking back and forth at sea, and there are still several more layers shifting underneath. Later on, the piece floats into more disturbing waters, including perhaps the most nightmarish usage of jaw harp ever recorded. "Odo Galse" is a bit closer to vintage Projekt-style neo-classical darkwave, and it's easily the loveliest song on the album. "Circles of Light" is also quite stirring, particularly when the electric piano melodies come in. Hawthonn's pieces sometimes build to a more intense, enveloping peak, but they largely establish a mood and dwell within it, going by lunar phases in order to interpret their enchanting visions.

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