The Sanctuary Suite

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Cauldron is a side project of the Holy River Family Band's Arne and Jens Johanson. The pair played virtually everything here and focused their attention on the more experimental side of their composing and improvising skills. While the HRFB is very song-oriented in their improvising, Cauldron is suite-oriented: elongated musical ideas built from a sound or phrase and layered, textured, and extended beyond all recognition into a sonic meditation on something else entirely. Cauldron's music is completely instrumental; it focuses on the mind-body continuum in the same way that David Gilmour's more adventurous moments did on Ummagumma and Meddle; in place, Arne even sounds like the Pink Floyd guitarist without borrowing from his riff book. In Cauldron's music, such as on the opener, "The Sea/The Road," everything opens slowly, develops at a snail's pace, but is ever-changing. The sonic movements and touches through Arne's guitars make it breathe and stretch, covering it almost in the sound of time eroding away at all static surfaces until nothing is left but the sound of the sea itself. Over the course of 21 minutes on "The Cathedral," a church pipe organ is played with a droning ferocity solo for almost four minutes by Jens before Arne enters with a meaner-than-snakes guitar slashing and bass riff that is reminiscent of the intro to "Radar Love" -- and it works. "The City" is all carillon and church bells, with Arne playing his best Indian slide guitar in a half-blues/half-raga style to churn the sounds of the bells' tonalities together. And finally in "The East/The Dream/The Bliss," sitars, trumpets, soprano saxophones, jazzy guitar chords, and minimal hand percussion drone through 21 minutes of intimate, soul-searing exploration to find the most minimal series of sounds possible to express their ideas. At times this sounds like Gil Evans conducting a small rock band, so lush and seamless are its textures. It all adds up to the fact that Cauldron, like their sister band HFRB, is one of the most musically challenging and exciting bands no one on this side of the Atlantic has ever heard of.

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