Stark, minimalist songs of the full moon from Bone Parade, a husband and wife duo from Albany NY, on this their second release. Lunar in the extreme, the four songs contained herein move in a similar sphere to Nico, Diamanda Galas, Swans and The Young Gods, all hissing glacial electronic atmosphere and icy semi-operatic female vocals.
Bone Parade describe themselves as ‘Monochromatic Death Lieder’, and quite frankly THAT is about as accurate a description as I could imagine. After a short intro of throbbing, looping sounds and slurring delayed vocals entitled ‘Mandragora’, the first song proper, entitled ‘Death and the Maiden’ creeps into view, emerging from a low-lying fog of garbled whispering radio-static and ominous bass tones. The listener is immediately thrown into shock as the stridently operatic voice of Erica Sparrow sings her song in German – hence the ‘lieder’ element of their sound – slowly and dramatically, sounding for all the world like a teutonic Jarboe. The roiling bass becomes a constant feature of the soundscape, but the emphasis is very much on Sparrow’s icy siren-song until the whole piece breaks down and is assaulted violently by the sudden rise in volume of the background static and ringing bass, bringing everything to a crashing end. Beautiful and disturbing, I found myself reminded of Scott Walkers uncanny masterpiece, ‘The Drift’. Praise indeed…..
Elsewhere on ‘Vollmondlieder’, we have , in ‘Selenite’, the same roiling fog of tones, overlaid with clanging bass and the chiming of huge bells, with Sparrow intoning her tale of sacrifice, the failure of mechanism and the moon, her voice looping underneath itself to tell us that ‘the moon is hungry’ in the voice of a fervent follower of the Moon goddess herself.
This is followed by the dramatic, elegiac and almost martial thrum of ‘The White Ship Has Sailed’ – possibly a Lovecraft reference – wordless vocals expressing a sense of loss and sorrow unarticulated yet somehow palpable.
Closing track ‘Veneration’ may just be the coup de grace of cold sadness, as Sparrows’ partner Kevin Johnston intones ‘We will pray’ over and over in a Gira-esque baritone, whilst droning, buzzing bass notes chime, bells chime, organ notes blur and loop and Sparrows’ beautiful voice swoops over the top, imploring us to ‘Remember, we are not this’. Its minimalistic dirge hits like a knife to the guts, in a way not heard by this reviewer since Swans monumental ‘Greed’ LP. Indeed, the track IS reminiscent of the Swans track ‘Heaven’, but it does not suffer because of this. Bone Parade maintain their OWN identity, their coldness is of a different ilk to that of Swans – theirs is the coldness of sadness, not the deep coldness of the bones expressed by Gira et al.
‘Vollmondlieder’ is 20 minutes that passes as if in a trance, drawing you in and holding you paralysed and entranced for the duration, before releasing you and leaving you cold, yet wanting MORE.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson