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Title: Ankoku Butoh
Artist: Faith and the Muse
Genre: Gothic, Dark Wave, Rock
Release Date: 27th November 2009
Label: Danse Macabre

Album Review

For about 15 years, Monica Richards and William Faith have been playing music together under the name FAITH AND THE MUSE. Before forming their common project, Richards had sung for STRANGE BOUTIQUE while Faith had collaborated with popular genre representatives such as CHRISTIAN DEATH and SEX GANG CHILDREN. The musical style of the Los Angeles-based formation is hard to pigeonhole, as it features many influences from folk to rock, jazz and avant-garde. The lyrics are often inspired by Irish and Welsh mythology. Some years have passed after the previous full-length release which was `The Burning Season´ in 2003. This year, the duo also introduced an EP entitled with `Tatsu´ containing all in all five songs offering a nice foretaste regarding `ankoku butoh´ that comes up as a double feature consisting of an audio CD including 13 tracks and a DVD.

Having a look at the songs´ titles, it is striking that they often refer to Japan which doesn’t happen by accident. According to the information of their German label, the lyrics are orientated towards the contents of the ancient Japanese religion Shinto. Moreover, “butoh” is the term for a Japanese expressive dance. Thus, the album’s main theme should be quite clear. It is interesting how Richards and Faith translate the central aspects to music. The opener `The Woman in The Snow´ is a meditative and ethereal piece focussing on strings and extraordinary vocals that create a very special and almost fairytale-like mood. The instrumental `Kamimukae´, an opulent and orchestral song, features rather classical sounds and leads over to up-tempo and punk-influenced `Blessed´ which is strongly dominated by the siren-like vocals of Monica Richards, dynamic drum beats and rough guitars. Similar to `Blessed´, `Battle Hymn´ follows up with monotonous verses and battle cry-like male backing vocals resulting in a dark and threatening piece.

There are some instrumental only interludes, for example `Bushido´ and `Harai´ whose purpose is to build up an authentic and Japan-related atmosphere, I guess. Looked at and listened to individually, those tracks aren’t that outstanding but they contribute to the overall package in an expressive manner. I would like to highlight the fascinating and mysterious `She waits by the Well´ making clear that Richard’s vocals are an important instrument and able to reinforce the song’s obsessive character. Therefore, `ankoku butoh´ isn’t addressed to those who prefer easily accessible stuff. It’s an artful and elaborated album that requires attentive listening and the buyer’s open mind.


01. The Woman in the Snow
02. Kamimukae
03. Blessed
04. Battle Hymn
05. Bushido
06. Nine Dragons
07. Harai
08. When We Go Dark
09. The Red Crown
10. Kodama
11. She Waits by the Well
12. Sovereign
13. To Be Continued

01. Battle Hymn (album video)
02. Blessed (album video)
03. Interview with the band
Live performance from Convergence XIII festival in Portland OR:
01. Scars Flown Proud
02. The Silver Circle
03. Bait & Switch / Sredni Vashtar
04. Relic Song
05. Shattered in Aspect
06. Paul Mercer: Solo
07. The Burning Season
08. The Trauma Coil
09. All Lovers Lost / Arianrhod
10. Fade and Remain
11. Sparks
12. Cantus
01. The Burning Season (music video)
02. Into My Own (from Convergence XIII)
03. Sparks (Promo video from 1995)
04. Annwyn, Beneath the Waves (live in Germany 1998)
05. Anafae Trailer


Monica Richards - vocals, instruments
William Faith - instruments, vocals

Website /



Music: 8
Sound: 9
Extras: -
Total: 8.5 / 10


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