Album Review: Imaginal Stage | Glamourie
As September is coming to its end and the memories of summer have already faded, the mood is a bit melancholic and a lot more esoteric. Thank god we have music. As if Bjork’s upcoming 10th LP ‘Fossora’ wasn’t enough, there are a couple of fresh and highly notable albums I’m preparing for the Sanctum this week. Let’s start with Glamourie’s bewitching new album ‘Imaginal Stage’ where the French artist/poet Merle Bardenoir is unfolding his romantic soul, radiating with primordial energy, representing the almighty mother-nature. Pressing Play >
From the very first seconds of the opener, titled ‘Behind The Veil of Cloud’, the listener is transferred into a primal, sacred space to witness a healing ceremonial, a kind of purification one might say. The transcending strings and ghastly bells are cleverly set to travel between the left and right ear, creating a virtual/sonic environment, exalting our sense of space as well as the realism of this time travel that Glamourie is putting us through. ‘On the Trail of the White Doe’ is taking the listener deeper into the ground with lower notes, monotonous melodies and an abstract character that gives off the sense of being lost, walking towards the unknown. With our steps onto the sandy ground being slow but sure, ‘The Feathered Witch’, either she’s literal or only a piece of music, feels like speaking directly into our soul, giving us blessings and courage for our journey. There are sounds of scratching and carving on rocks, an element that successfully adds strokes of texture into the music, a concept we rarely come across. Let alone the shivers of the friction that come as a natural reaction of the body.
The following ‘Nymphal Sanctuary’ sounds less rough than its predecessor and -even though the introduction feels eerie- the track ends up sounding like a gentle, royal celebration of nature or magic, or the magic of nature. The enchanting blend of flutes, strings and bells reminded me of Bjork’s Utopia, apparently through a folk prism. The moment ‘Echoes of the Sunken City’ starts playing, I’m instantly reminded of my most beloved Matthew Barnes aka Forest Swords (in his earlier work) because of the grainy atmosphere and somehow rugged approach of Glamourie which is subtle yet distinctive. If I had to visualise this piece I’d go with post-apocalyptic images where nature is thriving and humanity is non-existent. I’d go with temple ruins swallowed by raging, blooming jungles. Even though we are only in the middle of this journey, the experience already feels utterly filling.
Moving on to ‘Fairy Rings’, where we are generously given mysticality and uneasiness of the good kind. Here we have ethers floating into empty space, disparate bells and an unsettling bass that comes and goes at will. This goes among the most interlude-ish entries up to this point, maybe a paradoxical comment for a track that’s part of an instrumental body of work. Anyhow, coming back strong with ‘The Door in the Hill’, an almost self-explanatory song title, meaning that a fantastical visual is pretty much given before we even get to listen. The track is a passage between two worlds, minimal yet satisfying, neutral but at the same time tasteful. It takes a good amount of love and vision to make something so simple sound so full of heart and ‘The Door in the Hill’ is a deserving paradigm. And just when I’m starting to realise that percussion is what I missed most, ‘Enchanted Games’ comes with its dull drum, adding a soft, random beat, a human flavour into this otherworldly space of magical creatures.
The confusing ‘The Secret Amanita Cult’ combines everything we know so far, mixed up in a way that sets the listener in a state of numbness, awkwardness and wonder. A brother to ‘Fairy Rings’, this one acts as another transition to some place else, closer to the album’s closure. The eastern vibe of ‘Where the Serpents Lay’ managed to take me somewhere between the depths of India and Ancient Egypt despite its sparing length and lack of melody. It even deluded me into receiving the following ‘Heathen Recollections’ as another eastern piece even though it does not even remotely belong there. At this point, the effects of the album’s cohesiveness are pretty clear and that’s extraordinary to say the least. The closing ‘Recurrent Reverie’ goes among the most nostalgically melodic pieces in here. Armed with a set of balanced headphones made for creating music, one can hear the heartbeat of a forest lying under heart-warming strings and a variety of well-layered sounds that resemble echoing vocalisations of mythical flying creatures.
Glamourie is offering an abundance of magic through ‘Imaginal Stage’, creating sonic spaces so substantial that the listener can’t help constructing their own imaginary, corresponding visuals. One truly complete experience. Highly organic but undeniably electronic/experimental, this album is a spiritual trip that will have you wondering in ancient ruins of long-gone civilizations as well as wild, untrodden forests. It’s a breath of fresh air and a reminder that the world we have come to live in, away from the miraculous nature, is far from how humans were intended to live. Even so, the hope is not yet lost. Until next time!
Enjoy Imaginal Stage here: