Mors Syphilitica

Feather and Fate

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Mors Syphilitica is the lushly orchestrated project of husband and wife team Eric and Lisa Hammer. Feather and Fate is their third album since 1986, so they can't be accused of hurrying things. As gothic as Kenneth Anger's early cinema, or the films of F.W. Murnau, Feather and Fate is at once contemporary and timeless. Utilizing elements from the early, raw aspect of the Cocteau Twins, Eastern European folk music, classical lieder, and the darkwave gothic rock of the Cure and Gene Loves Jezebel, Mors Syphilitica carries the listener into a soundworld at once strangely foreign and somehow strikingly familiar. Eric Hammer plays all the instruments himself, and that's for good reason; he is a precision arranger and knows how to use a studio to layer his textures in such a way that the perceived excess is minimal though the atmospherics are so grand to be almost suffocating -- the feeling is one of drowning in silk. Lisa Hammer's pipes are truly wondrous as she intones, soars, and comes crashing back into the heart of darkness. And that's where these songs take their cues from: From the opener, "The Hues of Longing," through to "Nostalgia's Sea" to "Sins of the Dove," Hammer's guitars and keyboards provide a place of departure for Lisa. She enunciates each syllable as they fall from her mouth like sad, raw honey and caress the listener before pulling her along into the swirl of the mix and catch her up in the cacophony of complex emotion motivated by grief, longing, unrequited desire, and loss. It's a stunning record, really, though clearly not everyone's cup of tea. If it's sheer passion and delivery you're looking for in your love songs, though, this is the one for you.

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