Hecate by Jim Kirkwood

Jim Kirkwood

Hecate

5 tracks

Running time: 1:11:25
Released: 07/2006

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  01   Dark Ale Lane - 11:02
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  02   This Ae Night - 14:15
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  03   A Soul on the Bridge of Dread - 10:02
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  04   Shadows on the Horizon - 25:01
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  05   A Heartbeat of Mortality - 11:05
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More Info

This fast paced CD was originally intended as a triple release but the individual Cd's sounded better on their own so the whole project was repackaged into Vols 1and 2. There is an underlying darkness to this CD which suits the title. Hecate. Pronounced Heck-at-tay. Hecate a Greek goddess of the Underworld who was worshiped in remote locations where three roads meet and still is if you know the right/wrong people. Like most pagan deities she received a bad press from the Christian church hence her character assassination by Shakespeare in Macbeth. When I came to write the Foxhalt Edge cycles I decided to make her one of the good guys as well as the name for this release which is actually Vol 1 of a two CD set. So, to give it its full title. Hecate Vol1 Three Steps Beyond Midnight. Some of the titles for the individual tracks I took from a medieval dirge called the "Lyke Wake Dirge" whose origins may be traced to a certain part of Yorkshire, Dave Laws neck of the woods actually! It tells the story of a souls journey after death and the Likely destination of that soul depending on the life it had lived. If anyone is interested in hearing this haunting piece of music check out a recording made of it by the group Pentangle. I include the words of it here so that you might if you wish see where the ideas and titles came from. The song is written in an old form of the Yorkshire dialect of British English. It goes: This ae nighte, this ae nighte, Every nighte and alle, Fire and sleet and candle-lighte, And Christe receive thy saule. When thou from hence away art past To Whinny-muir thou com'st at last If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon, Sit thee down and put them on; If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gav'st nane The whinnes sall prick thee to the bare bane. From Whinny-muir when thou may'st pass, To Brig o' Dread thou com'st at last; From Brig o' Dread when thou may'st pass, To Purgatory fire thou com'st at last; If ever thou gavest meat or drink, The fire sall never make thee shrink; If meat or drink thou ne'er gav'st nane, The fire will burn thee to the bare bane; This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
—Every nighte and alle, Fire and sleet and candle-lighte, —And Christe receive thy saule.

Note: ae: one; hosen: stockings; shoon: shoes; whinnes: thorns; bane: bone; brig: bridge

I can't imagine why you would think the Yorkshire folk are a dour lot. And a Happy New Year to thee too!

You might wish to read this review of the CD by SMD

Sometimes life isn't about gentle build-ups leading to some dramatic moment. Sometimes that dramatic moment just explodes on your world with little or no warning and that is what happens here. It is a technique Jim has used from time to time in the past but rarely to greater effect than on this opener 'Dark Ale Lane'. Triumphant rhythms mix with quite awesome euphoric organ flourishes but then in less than a minute this heady brew subsides to an eerie War of the Worlds style soundscape of incredible beauty. Warhorse rhythms come back and the first sequence (of the very highest order) takes centre stage weaving a wonderful melody of its own, eventually replacing the rhythms and standing in isolation. Even by Jim's standards this opening is a bit special. Amazingly though things get even better as more sequences and shimmering lead lines exude a magical melange of both beauty and pent up angst. A virtual guitar growl adds a touch of menace. The tone is set for the rest of the album. 'This Ae Night' just takes the baton from the previous track, simply exploding with raw power but also pent up emotion. The lead lines and sequences are the stuff of dreams juxtapositioned by nightmare reality. 'A Soul on the Bridge of Dread' serves up a similar brew that keeps the pulse racing. 'Shadows on the Horizon' begins with a slightly Eastern feel, subtle percussion creating quite a relaxed mood. All Hell then breaks loose in the second minute as more organ type sounds swell and spectres fly over the top. Calm returns with a gentle undulating drone and ethereal wordless vocal colouring. Simply gorgeous stuff. A wonderful melodic tinkling sequence emerges then all of a sudden- wallop, vast drums and scorching lead lines let rip. The mood momentarily relaxes as the lovely sequence returns. Our travels remain calm for the next few minutes then a very rapid menacing sequence slowly emerges, like an army gradually appearing over a hill, their numbers seeming to increase without end. We then go through a lovely gently percussive section soon to be joined by more triumphant strident leads before finally settling down to a brooding but still beautiful finish. Scraping shimmering metallic sounds give way to contrasting soothing pads as 'A Heartbeat of Mortality' slowly seeps into the consciousness. A steady deep pulse slowly rises to the surface, twangy melodic loop and ghostly lead line gently falling into formation. First one sequence emerges then a rapid second rapid one joins it. A third with even greater velocity, a ferocious rhythm and laser sharp lead explode from the speakers. The excitement is intense as if a battle is raging where no prisoners will be taken. What a way to finish an album- but then quite typical of the man. I have done so many reviews of Jim's work now and even though each album has an identity of its own and over time his artistry has matured, he still has a 'signature' like no other. Having said all that there is something to the sound palette here that reminds me more than most of his albums of early eighties TD (though there is so much more here as well) and as such, of all his recent albums this is probably the best place to start if you haven't tried his works before or your only experience of him was via a very early album such as 'Tower of Darkness'. I would implore you to give this album a try. There is no doubt in my mind that at the moment Jim is creating some of the most exciting music I have ever heard. (DL)