This Canadian duo has become a darling of the Canadian goth/darkwave scene since the release of their first album, Initiation, in 1996. In 2000, they followed up with Between Earth and Sky, and 2001 saw the reissue of their debut as Re: Initiation with new artwork, two remixes, and four tracks unheard on the original album. The band's sound continues to be moody, dark, and very pretty; singer and percussionist Sue Hutton is influenced by Celtic and Balkan styles, while multi-instrumentalist Jim Field brings a certain heavyosity with him from his previous work in hardcore and experimental groups. The combination is a good one: imagine a (much) less pretentious Dead Can Dance, or a (much) less funky Transglobal Underground. True, things do get almost boring at times -- "Tsunami" consists of one chord for over nine minutes -- and the lyrics sometimes get a bit out of hand (check out the words to "Hymn to Pan"). But this album's overall combination of the lulling and the disconcerting is an interesting one, and Hutton's voice is a constant delight. And the remixes are very nice; the Mudra remix of "Ocean" introduces a new level of rhythmic interest, while the Haujobb remix of "Cun Lacoudhir" turns what was originally a dreamy piece of pan-European ambience into a bracing slab of house music. Recommended.
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Most of you must know that ''new'' is well-forgotten ''old''. Showy Canadians Rhea's Obsession are giving the next convincing evidence for it. In their latest album ''Re: Initiation / The Mudra Mixes'' they returned to their first record ''Initiation'', reminded their eloquent beginnings and added something brand new. As the first record, ''Re: Initiation'' is striking by unbelievable blend of celestial ethereal and earthy industrial, where confident and high-grade guitar noises provided by Jim Field meet Bulgarian and Indian rhythms of elegant percussion performed by Rakesh Tewari and Ed Hanley on tablas, doumbek and bodhran; and the whole of this alloy is ravishingly adorned with Sue Hutton's operatically trained vocals. Leading ''Memento Mori'' is the perfect guide to prevalent experimentation of Rhea's Obsession creative work and sets the mood to the record. Next to bewitching ballads ''Waves (Take Me Alive)'', enchanting song of sirens, and ''Cun Lacoudhir'', Gaelic tale about the breaking ice in the dream, there come hypnotizing splitting sounds of ''Strategies of Movement'', which makes you sit stunned without any twinkling. ''Hymn to Pan'', reciting of Allister Crowley's poem, is distinguished by its chaotic eerie intensification. Maybe the most glaring piece of this record is ''Anxia'', romance-turn-to-murder song, which creates mystical and ominous atmosphere basically because of Victor Rebelo's amazing drums. The piece, where love re-incarnated to hatred, sounded in Valentine's Day scene of sci-fi series ''Psi Factor: chronicles of the paranormal''; the insertion of this song to the record is rather humane act concealing to everyone being deprived about ''Eclipse'', band's second release. Enigmatic ''Tsunami'' in both elaborations is nothing more but obvious work of art, containing mesmeric tribal notes along with Field's fabulous guitar passages. Haujobb remix of ''Cun Lacoudhir'' is unforgivable challenge to previous serene version of the song, but also it shows the bright example of Rhea's Obsession's considerable experience in creating remixes. With all diversity and singularity of songs, the whole record has one remarkable dignity: Sue Hutton's sensual voice. From the first piece gorgeous modulations of this multi-layered powerful voice possesses your soul, reaches for every cell of your body, makes you feel yourself in smooth sailing flight over uneasy world; it's certain, skillfully controlled, deep and delicate. Okay, please stop comparing Sue with Lisa Gerrard, because actually it's needless, unfair and mistakenly. Why? Because then you'll have to blame all Goth songstresses in that ''they are not Lisa''. Ultimately, I want to say, that today's music world undergoes hardships about formed, defined and really professional bands. Rhea's Obsession is definitely that sort of rare bands with efficient level and aims, which they always reach without fail. And ''Re: Initiation'' shows this statement in all its absolutism. Sue and Jim are still true to themselves: intelligent, experimenting, resourceful, distinctive and simply delectable.