Christian Lucifer

Christian Lucifer

by Perry Leopold
     
 

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Although his incredibly rare first album, Experiment in Metaphysics, was a sensational and dynamic slice of progressive acid folk, Perry Leopold took a phenomenal leap forward on the follow-up, 1973's Christian Lucifer. (It is a small miracle that the recording ever saw the light of day, since the studio at

Overview

Although his incredibly rare first album, Experiment in Metaphysics, was a sensational and dynamic slice of progressive acid folk, Perry Leopold took a phenomenal leap forward on the follow-up, 1973's Christian Lucifer. (It is a small miracle that the recording ever saw the light of day, since the studio at which it was recorded was sold and then closed, and all the master tapes from the sessions were erased and used again, leaving only a few mixdown copies.) The songs on the first album, while all strong individually, didn't quite hold together, but Christian Lucifer is conceptually a whole, impossible to imagine as anything other than what it is. Leopold's melodies again shine like slowly uncovered gems. Complex melodic lines and protracted vocal melodies stretch and build ominously, like the sight of a wise, enigmatic monk concealed beneath a woolen cloak. The religious reference is not an empty simile. If the songs on his first album came across as parables or ancient narrative tales, then Christian Lucifer is a collection of hymns, prayers, and litanies conflicted with the dualities of life, full of metaphysical depth. Whereas the first album stuck to the folk basics, this second album was stunningly produced. Gorgeous layers of acoustic guitars, bass, clavinets, bassoons, recorders, oboes, cellos, tabla, MiniMoog, and explosive timpani and bells gave the album a rococo-styled grace and wispy beauty, invoking everything from medieval madrigals to Bach and Vivaldi to Middle Eastern musics to psychedelia and the Doors. And yet, it is none of those things. There are imprecise similarities to Nick Drake's oppressive but beautiful fragility, the theatrical majesty and scope of David Bowie (who is quoted at the beginning of "Serpentine Lane," a dystopian reply of sorts to "Space Oddity," with Leopold's deep voice infusing the music with the same alien quality), and the visionary mystical musings of Merrell Fankhauser and Jeff Cotton's cult band Mu. The foreboding keyboards of "The Windmill" are pulled directly from "Riders on the Storm," but the album is an entirely unique and novel amalgam. There is a Renaissance Fair feel, particularly in songs such as "Sunday Afternoon in the Garden of Delights" and "The Starewell," harsh and pretty at once, and intriguingly arcane. Leopold was, in fact, a troubadour in the truest sense of the word, singing his music for whoever would listen. Ultimately, the album is a very individual struggle with the duality that lies at its heart and is the crux of everything humanity is and does. Christian Lucifer is both terrestrial and ethereal, both tangible and transcendent. It is unquestionably Leopold's masterpiece, and one of the most artistic, intellectually mature, and haunting albums -- released or not -- of its era.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/28/1999
Label:
Gear Fab Records
UPC:
0645270014120
catalogNumber:
141

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