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Witchvox Chapter: Pagan Music
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Magicfolk [a Witchvox Sponsor] ...
(by Michelle and Ben Glover)
Audience Count: 6,703
"Take two twigs of the juniper tree
Cross them, cross them, cross them,
Look in the coals of the fire of Azrael."
Dion Fortune’s occult novels are scattered with small fragments of verse; magical invocations to the pagan deities she celebrates, such as Pan (The Goat Foot God) and Isis (Moon Magic) . In The Sea Priestess she describes how Vivien le Fay Morgan and her acolyte Wilfred build a fire of Azrael, with cedar, sandalwood and juniper, on the sea shore, “when the weed begins to stream”, in order to evoke the forces of the mysterious Priest of the Sea and the lunar powers.
Taking this image as its starting point, the song was written using selected words and phrases from the novel (with permission from the copyright holder) . Dion Fortune’s writings and her incredibly sensible understanding of the occult sciences has been one of the mainstays of our life and creative inspirations.
I first came up with the odd time signature that accompanies the verses during the first part of the song - a strange but magnetic beat. After the central choral section the verses return with a straight 4/4 rhythm to drive the song forward to its conclusion.
This track was the least prepared number when we began recording the album, and much of its musical direction was left until we were actually there in the studio. It was a bit of gamble to try and arrange large sections of the song ‘with the meter running’, but ultimately this approach allowed a generous amount of spontaneity and freshness to its creation.
One of the things we were most excited about was how the end of the track worked out. On the final section where it goes manic we had Jay (bass) , Lee (lead guitar) and Miki (keyboards) playing freestyle together, improvising as they went. Luckily they were all on form that day, and it was a buzz to be there in the control room while they played it – we just went with that first take. Finally the playing erupts into a softer, open soundscape where the gull featured on the album artwork finally makes its debut, among a melee of other processed and synthesised sounds.
In the end, we felt the way in which the track was produced was a perfect match for the whole theme of the song, which concerns the spontaneous creative process. This only became clear towards the final recording stages though, since Ben and myself initially picked the words and phrases more or less at random…! (Or, as we prefer to think of it, through subconscious rather than conscious efforts.)
The words bring in a real flavour of casting spells and working ritual magic, and I guess that was one of our original aims; to build our own musical fire of Azrael. It was in our minds to conjour up the atmosphere - so adeptly described in the book - of the sea and magical landscapes involved:
"We will see all the past
Of the high sea down,
And the hollow land of marshes."
…and then to invoke the main figure of the song and book - Fay Morgana, with her “Priest of the Sea”, bringing to mind the polarity of opposites that Dion Fortune is ever preoccupied with.
Most of the songs on our debut album are inspired by some form of esotericism. All in all, this track is an attempt to capture the essence of the novel and the magic which it contains. And what is magic at the end of the day? It’s a highly charged state of consciousness - both receptive and creative on the negative and positive poles of energy, yin and yang - where you have to fly on wings of spontaneity in order to react, move and grow accordingly.
All best wishes for the Winter Solstice season,
Michelle & Ben
Recorded: Ashwood Studios Norfolk UK
Guests/Players: Michelle - vocals, acoustic guitar
Miki Kovalkovic - keyboards
Ben Glover - additional keyboards, backing vocals
Geoff Charlton - drums, darabuka, congas
Lee Morant - lead guitar
Jay - bass
Sotos - guitar
Tom Abbott - guitar
Technical Notes: Acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, drums, darabuka, congas, bass, fx
Artist Profile: “Genuinely something new for fans of esoteric folk, their lyrics sing of folklore and magic, evoking the mystery within the music." (Woven Wheat Whispers)
Magicfolk is a 6-piece British psychedelic-folk band based in Norfolk UK, producing their own blend of folk, rock, celtic and prog-rock with rich vocal harmonies and an assortment of instruments, in songs with mythological and mystic leanings.
"A raft of magical spells, a silver blade wrapped in lace" (Folkwords)
Their material touches upon a whole range of esoteric inspirations, including those found in Egyptian, Greek, Celtic, Hermetic, Shamanic, Wiccan and Pagan traditions, and more.
Their debut album is available direct from their website, or as a download from iTunes. And they are presently finishing their 2nd album - due for release in 2011.
“Prog rock, celtic tunes and tight vocal harmony, spiked with prickly electric guitar. If you like Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and Jefferson Airplane, you won’t be disappointed.” (Pagan Dawn Magazine)
“Entirely convincing… memorable and beautifully arranged” (Radio Centraal Belgium)
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