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Children in Paradise - Morrigan CD (album) cover

MORRIGAN

Children in Paradise

 

Crossover Prog

3.89 | 9 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was first drawn in by the spectacular artwork, as the front cover is simply out of this world. Within a minute of hearing the song "Alone" by Children of Paradise, I was hooked, lined and snared. A trebly bass grumble, tingling and later sizzling guitars, a seductive female voice (Kat Millot) and an extraordinary groove got me real good. The music here represents the follow up to the trilogy to the Celtic myths and legends that began with their debut album Esyllt (2012). Inspired in part by the ancient Celtic legends of Ireland of the 11th century, focused particularly on the fabled "Táin Bó Cúailnge", Morrigan is an invitation to travel the darkest roads of Ireland, on the heels of the hero Cu Chulainn and the warrior goddess Morrigan, a clever concoction of atmospheric rock blended with prog tinged with some metal, somewhere between dreams and nightmares, thoroughly infused with Celtic nuances. Their website says it best: "Children in Paradise invites you to travel to the Sidh, the other Celtic world, somewhere beyond the horizon of the sea, in these beautiful islands, deep of peace, harmony and purity. The music of Children in Paradise is a mix of many influences, sounds inspired by Pink Floyd, Anathema and a study of atmospheric environments and the power of sacred music, like proggier and edgier Dead Can Dance... With a rare finesse in the arrangements, the voice of Dam Kat, so fresh and full of emotions occasionally remind Kate Bush or Beth Gibbons of Portishead."

As detailed earlier, one of the finest opening tracks ever comes in the form of "Alone", a sparkling display of shimmering prog-rock, buoyed by a curmudgeon-like bass rasp that scratches and claws like some raptor in heat. Dam Kat unleashes the Gibbons plea with great effect, hushed and choking with emotion. Guitarist Avec Gwalchmei slams his axe with frenzied zeal, tortured and pained. This is one hell of a keeper. As if to further the distressed mood, the dense melancholia is maintained on the plaintive and dejected "I Wait", featuring a tremendous vocal performance that will surely astound even the harshest critic, a desperate wail that envelops like a warm blanket of psychedelic comfort. A tremendous follow-up track.

On the devastatingly impeccable "I'm Falling", the group introduces for the very first time on a prog recording an ancient instrument that the Celtic warriors used on the field of battle, the carnyx, here played by John Kerry. It sounds like the ram's horn used by Jews to announce the end of Passover but deeper and angrier. Kat offers a dramatic tone, creating quite the wraith-like impression but the band like to rock as well with fat bass punching hardy drum beats and a wild guitar ride. This is absolutely first rate progressive whichever way you look at it. Soft and then ballsy, eerie and then corporeal.

The ethereal and at times spooky "Intro I Will Follow You" is an outright jaw-dropping, visceral, pulsating and tortuous lament that stretches far and wide, shrouded in a densely Gothic mist, a million shades of grey, murky and instinctual. The instrumental grandiloquence features the right amount of propulsion and a wide array of atmospherics that soothe and bite. When I start laughing nervously half way through the piece, that is really good news, its means I am getting blown away, once again, a feeling that never gets old or boring. This is a masterpiece of music, period.

After 4 majestically slayer tracks , the pace slows down and veers into softer realms , as perfectly emoted on the powdery 3 part title track suite , first a swooshing but warm breeze, Dam Kat laying down again her best Beth Gibbons impression, no mean feat as the Portishead lung had some blistering moments in a too short of a career. The martial drums announce a rockier riff that blazes forward, the guitarist is simply world class, very stylish and original, using both traditional as well as prog-rock traditions and blending them into something wholly different. The third section "the Nightmare" propels the atmospherics into a bruising lamentation, bombarded by a rock drum attack from Frédéric Moreau, shoving Dam Kat's pleading cry to surreal heights. As the title so correctly implies, things get quite terrifying.

A trio of great tunes finishes off this thrilling opus, the rotund "Stay" in particular, solidifying the moody experience with all the usual suspects, laden with sombre strings, a wide percussive beat and judicious use of Uillean pipes and low whistle, courtesy of guest Loic Blejean. A slicing guitar solo does the piece even more justice. Next up, "In My Mind" at first maintains the ominous dread that permeates all the tracks but evolves into a blistering attack, moodily bombastic and heavily orchestrated, confirming Dam Kat as quite the prog vocalist (her wailing is superb) and Avec Gwalchmei as a stylistically effective fret-man. More Irish pipes add to the shrouded fury. Finally, "He's Dying" finishes off with a spellbinding eulogy, infusing more Celtic influence and lovingly encapsulates the dazzling and yet mournful voice, a pulsing funeral beat and woven atmospherics from both guitars and keyboards.

I started this review about the exquisite cover art that would easily win any contest in terms of visual appreciation, yes it's simply breathtaking and much like identifies with the music presented here. Technically, the final part of the trilogy is being prepared as we speak and I frankly look very much forward to chasing down that, as well as their debut album.

4.5 Divine infants

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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