Garden of Dilmun - Review
This project has been around in some form or another from 1999-2003 and then again in 2009 starting back up again. Originally formed by Caroline Jago and Eilish McCracken the project had a short, intense stint releasing several albums. We now have Caroline Jago and Ann-Mari Thim as the core to this project from 2009 through the present.
2011 sees the release of their latest full-length work Garden of Dilmun
taking various pagan themes for the lyrics, building on a beautiful, yet powerful bombastic mix of neo-classical, martial and ethereal musical styles. The album comes with thirteen of these varied, powerful pieces.
Right from the beginning we get the intense mix of neo-classical and heavy, bombastic elements as synthesized symphonic sounds ebb and flow, build and fade across the intense percussions and Ann-Mari's angelic vocals caress the tempestual music. For the most part this is all a good mix and fans of the heavier, more intense tracks from Arcana
and Dead Can Dance
can appreciate. Starting off with "Valensanimi", it gradually builds across the symphonic sounds and slowly builds to more of the bombastic approach as described above. This leads us into "Aiode", which from the very beginning is an onslaught of heavy, martial-like percussion, tempered by the soft vocals as the track moves along, coupled with soft and subtle strings. These pieces quickly became favorites, however as we get into "Dilmun" we realize that it's not all about bombastic, martial industrial as the acoustic guitar moves along steadily and soft, beautiful layers of orchestral elements create a beautiful ethereal piece.
With this first trio of tracks we get a good taste of what the album has in store for us and we can settle back and not be surprised by anything, from the soft and dreamy, to the heavy and intense pieces. We have a trio of interludes that help to somewhat divide the album up into sections and provide added variety. These short instrumental pieces are definite treats.
As the album moves along we continue to see varied themes on the musical compositions. Favorites don't necessarily stand out a ton as the album is fairly cohesive despite the seemingly wide range of intensity. I will touch on a few here though as "Mabon" moves along sweetly, it falls well within more of a typical neo-classical / ethereal piece. Another completely different piece that is heavier with more intense percussion is "Soporanimi" which has a lot of the more bombastic elements and heavy, deep chanting male backing vocals for a stark contrast to the overpowering female lead. Another fairly similar piece is "Mneme" which also quickly became a favorite and has received good feedback from our ethereal radio listeners. It includes a nice mix of beautiful ethereal song structures and instruments yet moves along well with a heavy, ancient beat. And as the album begins to come to a close, a true beauty is presented with "Litha", the inclusion of classical piano on this piece is definitely a nice touch and tempers the heavy, deep bass strings (cello, bass, etc.) coupled with Ann-Mari's vocals. "Samhain" builds on this theme though in a much softer, ethereal style as the soft piano moves sweetly along while the various layers of symphonic strings and solo violin move along softly.
As you can see, nearly every piece stands out as a favorite and it's hard to just dwell on a few highlights. While it's not a perfect album and there are in my mind a few clashes of style, or seemingly forced intensity, overall it's a great album as noted. I think this project has found their own unique blend of talents and musical structures and genres, while still being accessible and enjoyable by fans of past greats within these genres. Be sure to check them out as the album is well worth it.
Label: Out of Line