As The Crow Flies is a release which pushes all complications and unnecessary wrappings aside to unveil and inspire a core of emotive poetry and introspective inducement. It is a haunting meditative soundtrack to reflection, self and worldly; a record of dark beauty and an impacting seductive evocation from Steve Von Till, the Neurosis vocalist/guitarist, which leaves thoughts and emotions bare.
The album has its re-release via Neurot Recordings, the independent label founded by members of Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot and run day to day by Von Till and staff, which has grown into a fully-fledged label bringing releases from the likes of Ufomammut, Isis, Shrinebuilder, Neurosis, Across Tundras, US Christmas, Ides of Gemini, Oxbow, A Storm of Light, Amenra and many more to the world. As The Crow Flies was released right at the start of the labels emergence but has been out of print for many years. Its re-release thirteen years after the original indelible mark was made feeds a smouldering hunger which has laid waiting in those of us who missed it first time around.
As song after mesmeric song plays its heart and tale upon the ear, acoustic guitar and the gravelly low key whispering of Von Till part crooning and part serenading the imagination, the album visually emerged in the mind as a long lone fence within a melancholic sultry landscape of emotions, each song a post to lean upon as the cage stretches into the horizon and each drawing, inciting a reflective union with the suggestive atmosphere and smouldering ambience placed around thoughts. The surrounding breath and scenery is a shadow crafted intrigue beneath flaming hypnotic skies and upon a canvas of vividly coloured weaves employing everything from sadness and sorrow to hope and resignation. It is a scintillating and enthralling walk through its soundscape with the sounds musically and vocally bred for the fullest engagement.
The album opens with its most potent and captivating presence. Stained Glass offers up a deep resonating caress of the ear soon joined by the throaty sirenesque haunt of the cello, the pairing alongside the slightly grizzled tones of Von Till, a thought crafting blend of chiselled and organic beauty, the dark and light textures within an overall darkened spell leaving no room for escape as the song opens up with its emotive wash of provocative temptation for the mind and passions. As across most of the album, the simplicity is as riveting as it is impossibly addictive, its employment of repetition and singular chords resonating with one persistent voice like an emotive narcotic for nothing less than deep willing slavery to its powerful almost sinister charm.
The following We All Fall walks through darker fields, its residue of sombre elegance drifting across the ear with childlike folk seeded simplicity, its closing vocal temperance almost nursery rhyme like with a dark breath and intent. It is a riveting experience as powerful and enriching as its predecessor and is soon matched by the likes of Remember, a song with a breeze soaked in chant and pulsating glistening from the sun but equally leaving a teasing of impending cacophonies which are never realised but add wonderful cloud to the emotion exploration, and the exceptional Twice Born, another harvest of sublime melancholia enhanced by the blue touch and beauty of the cello and sky bound harmonies between Von Till and the golden tones of Kris Force from Amber Asylum, her celestial siren wrapped tones an irresistible fascination beside the restrained yet compelling tones of her companion.
Midheaven is a drone seeded meditative cloud which ensnares the senses with its single chord repetition occasionally joined by another singularly crafted stroke of discord touched melodic taunt. It is a starkly haunting piece from an equally barren landscape emotionally and visually, the journey coming near its end with a brooding intensity lifting its resentful head as final track Shadows in Stone approaches. Like earlier song Warning Of A Storm, the closing track crafts a sinister embrace which permeates every sense and thought whilst bringing all the elements which flamed throughout the album, that morose delicious cello cry, seductive caresses from the voice of Force, and the consciousness provoking guitar invention and inciting vocals of Von Till, into play. Once a rhythmic resonance and enticement of drums and percussion opens up the song further the sunset of imposing majestic radiance leaves the passions simply enflamed.
As The Crow Flies is a wonderful album which gets better and better as well as more evocative with each venture into its heated sweltering depths and well worth its return for us stupid enough to have missed it the first time around.
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