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Mahakali [Ltd]

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All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Ever since her debut solo release, Red, in 1991, singer, songwriter, conceptualist, and producer Jarboe has been staking out territory for herself that only she can inhabit. Her musical reach extends far beyond "alternative" music, and becomes its own genre. Its aesthetic is often associated with noise, folk elements, extreme metal, and the avant-garde. Released in 2008, Mahakali is a logical next step for Jarboe in that it brings her full circle in many ways to her beginnings with Swans. As the title indicates, the set is an album-length meditation on the Indian tantric goddess the Great Kali, the consort of Shiva or, in other thought schools, the goddess of Reality. She is...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Ever since her debut solo release, Red, in 1991, singer, songwriter, conceptualist, and producer Jarboe has been staking out territory for herself that only she can inhabit. Her musical reach extends far beyond "alternative" music, and becomes its own genre. Its aesthetic is often associated with noise, folk elements, extreme metal, and the avant-garde. Released in 2008, Mahakali is a logical next step for Jarboe in that it brings her full circle in many ways to her beginnings with Swans. As the title indicates, the set is an album-length meditation on the Indian tantric goddess the Great Kali, the consort of Shiva or, in other thought schools, the goddess of Reality. She is known as another manifestation of the Hindu goddess Durga. To some she represents destruction and death, to others she is the mother of change and the "black goddess." Jarboe's body paint and pose in the cover photo doesn't do the terrifying image of Kali justice, but it's obvious that the album is an homage to an inspiration; there are no representations of Kali's image anywhere in the package. Musically, Jarboe has outdone herself this time. This is the most "song"-oriented recording she's done in some time. It engages dark, swirling, yet nearly melodic metal, performance art, and deft writing. Electric and acoustic guitars, large church organs, tribal bass-heavy drums and percussion, keyboards, open-tuned basses, and Jarboe's voice, by turns vulnerable and beyond ordinary strength, carry this 15-song cycle along at a slow, deliberate, crushingly intense emotional pace. Her collaborators include guest vocalists Phil Anselmo from Pantera and Attila Csihar from Mayhem and more recently Sunn 0. She co-produced the set with engineer Colin Marston and a host of excellent instrumentalists. Given that this is a concept recording, taking any of these songs out of that context does them and Jarboe a disservice. This is a musical journey, rich in textures, ambience, dynamics, sonic atmospheres, and emotions. Jarboe has always been willing to express what most of the rest of us would rather not look at, let alone feel. This is not indulgence so much as musical bravery, this time expressed from the point of view of the weak and abject on the Earth, and from the place of real power at the heart of polytheistic power. Listening from the beginning becomes a trance-like exercise; once engaged, it is nigh-on impossible to separate from it. Quaking low frequencies precede gorgeous droning cello parts by the wonderful Julia Kent from Rasputina, who is present much of the time; blank spaces become littered with guitar shards; and Jarboe alternately sings full-throated or like she's being strangled by her own blood. She can be an innocent child or a creature from beyond the pale. All of them are within her reach and supreme control as an artist. In the margins of the booklet, where the lyrics are printed, is the text relating to Kali from The Mahabharata, telling her story once more, as these dark seductive grooves accompany it. This is a kind of sacred music that will unsettle many, but this isn't for them. It's a devotional for those who wish to see outside the realms of monotheism, and for the growing group of listeners willing to embrace the unknown and exotic. For those, it will be what it is: a work of stunning beauty and musical invention. This latest incarnation of Jarboe as a songwriter and singer, as has become her wont, takes us to places mentally and emotionally that we may have never traveled on our own. [This limited-edition version includes the track "Violence" and a "Visceral Mix" of "The House of Void."]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/14/2008
  • Label: The End Records
  • UPC: 654436011729
  • Catalog Number: 117

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jarboe Primary Artist, Keyboards, Vocals
Julia Kent Cello
Vincent Signorelli Drums
Josh Graham Guitar
Phil Anselmo Vocals
Kris Force Violin
Attila Csihar Vocals
Jeff Eber Drums
Kevin Hufnagel Guitar
Colin Marston Guitar
Cedric Victor Bass
Technical Credits
Jarboe Engineer, Sound Treatment
Phil Anselmo Author
Kris Force Mastering
Chris Griffin Engineer, Mastering
Colin Marston Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Vocal Engineer
Cedric Victor Arranger, Composer, Producer, Writer, Atmosphere
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