Artist: The Beauty of Gemina
Title: The Myrrh Sessions
Genre: Gothic, Acoustic
Release Date: 22nd February 2013
After four successful, eclectic and critically acclaimed albums, a band can be forgiven for exercising ambitious new directions and creative freedoms when it comes to a new project or release. And Swiss band THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA has certainly earned that right. Described in part as a thank you to fans - and TBOG fans have a fiercely enthusiastic and loyal reputation - the decision was made to record an album that revisits and reinterprets a selection of their finer moments from each album. Throw in an intriguing title, two instrumentals and two new songs, and the questions are ready to be asked. Does this concept work? Is it a wise career move that develops, rather than it regresses the story? And as well as satisfying devoted fans, will it impress a wider audience? Having reviewed ‘The Myrrh Sessions’, the answer to all these questions has to be a resounding yes!
Opening with ‘Myrrh 1’, a haunting piano lament, the album begins fully with ‘Narcotica’, and from the first few bars it is clear that this is not some tired remix or rehash concept. This is a fully re-imagined version of the song, and this theme continues strikingly on live favourite ‘Rumours’ from the ‘At the End of the Sea’ album. Given a shuffling backbeat and gently strummed core, it’s radically different from the driven rock sound of the original. Piano picks out the familiar guitar lines, and above this singer Michael Sele succeeds in upping the melancholy with a beautifully understated vocal. ‘Suicide Landscape’ surprises still further with the inclusion of a swell of violins in its dramatic conclusion, and ‘Dark Rain’ opts for an urgent bluesy beat, galloping along on an entirely new path. It’s dark, yes, but playful and almost jazz-like in its freedom. The band is showing respect to the structure and nature of the song, but enjoying themselves immensely while doing this.
But make no mistake! This is a brooding and introspective collection of songs on the whole. At times, from the haunting violin introduction of ‘Kingdoms of Cancer’ through the slow burn yearning of its gradual build and climax, it’s almost too painful to bear. And if there is anything at fault in the dark heart of this collection, it’s the sustained relentlessness of it all, which perhaps explains the inclusion of the sparse and improvised sounding ‘Lonesome Death of a Goth DJ’ at the half way point. It delivers nicely, but absolutely doesn’t take itself too seriously. It provides breathing space before plunging us back into the melancholic mix, and for me, it’s enough that it does so. Instrumental ‘Myrrh 2’ segues slickly into ‘Last Night Home’, and the band as a whole sound assured and comfortable with the new pace and dynamics of the song. ‘Stairs’, already a strong and beautiful melody from last album ‘Iscariot Blues’, needs little change, but stripping it back even further and adding orchestration gives it renewed gravitas. The vocals too seem more vulnerable and fragile. This can only be a good thing for a song of this nature. It is simply stunning.
The inclusion of the TALKING HEADS song ‘Listening Wind’ is inspired. Completely unrecognisable from the tricky, angular original, it’s given a whole new sense of despair with almost breathy vocals, and mournful strings. It may be a cover, but the band now absolutely owns this remarkable little song. New, original song ‘Last Words’ is in a similar vein, piano and voice squeezing every last drop of emotion from what is essentially a stunning poem. With a release day gig at the hugely important Moods venue in Zurich on the 16th of February, complete with string ensemble, this album heralds not just an important retrospective point in the bands career, but a brave and inspired step forwards too. All the songs here are given a new life and room to breathe, sounding fresh and original, with impressive and inventive arrangements, and also clearly showcasing the individual talents of all four band members. Those who are already familiar with the songs will find a whole new listening experience, while anyone new to the band can enjoy these dignified and melancholy compositions as a complete and wholly new album, nodding respectfully to the past but only ever looking forward to a new chapter that can surely be nothing short of thrilling.
01. Myrrh 1
04. Suicide Landscape
05. Dark Rain
06. Listening Wind
07. Golden Age
08. The Lonesome Death of a Goth DJ
10. Kingdoms of Cancer
11. Myrrh 2
12. Last Night Home
15. Last Words
Michael Sele – Words & Music, Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Mac Vinzens – Drums
David Vetsch – Bass
Marco Gassner – Guitar
http://www.thebeautyofgemina.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/TheBeautyOfGemina
Total: 9 / 10