Mask Heavy Petal
By Marcus Pan
Mask is very pretty. From the bright flarey
cardboard fold out, wonderfully put together by Globe Music Media Arts - a
label whom aspires to a much higher aesthetic than your standard
jewel-case-fold-out blasé of media, to the brilliant press kit to the
ethereal combinations of classical string and modern electronics on Heavy
Petal - it's all very pretty. But it's pretty in a nightmare. Dark
Murmur for example opens smooth and layered, but a hum of darker aesthetics
in the background build to a haunting melody creating a strange and wonderful
juxtaposition that becomes "pretty in the dark."
Which is a strange feeling really if its dark how can
you tell something is pretty? Well for one thing the light cello of Marvin
Ayres keeps the sound earthy and natural, but the electronic darker tones and
haunting vocals of Sonja Kristina build into it to create a far reaching
element of subtle fears and anguish. Tribal rhythms and beats drive tracks like
Global Incantation along, a ley line of aural imagery that is anchored
to the earth for its rhythm but clouded in a post-storm sky for its melody.
Live Mask performances combine elements of projected imagery
to lay against the ethereal atmospheric music creating a stronger element
together than they would alone. After the haunting ambient openings of Dark
Murmur and Global Incantation, Paean brings us to a more pleasant
space with subtle classical strains and slow chanting female vocals, a may-pole
dance in the early morning of a spring day off on some other-world where the
landscape is purple and the sky green.
We continue like this for a little while, the haunting
nature of the opening left behind as you spread your wings into a less sinister
environment where Sonja croons beside you in her first outing on Heavy
Petal as a singer rather than a chantress. Fall So Hard reminds me
of work by Delerium or a much more laid back Scarlet Life. Well
flop back and forth between instrumental electronic ambience, sometimes
haunting sometimes not, and the more mainstream songs like Blue Words
crop up as we move through Heavy Petal.
I dig the ingenious underwater tribal beat of Shelter
Skelter. This gives way to a funky rhythm that at once modernizes the song
well. While most of Heavy Petal treads on the very edge of nightmare,
keeping the haunting nature of the mood at bay with Marvins cello and
strings, Sound of Tears Forming will, with an early on stereo effect,
spill you over the edge if only for a few seconds. Very off kilter, strange,
really messes with your head under headphones. Actually one of the strongest
reactions Ive had to a musical piece in a while kudos to Mask.
Other than the outro Free Flow which rhythms nicely to a wonderful
close, the last real track here is Those Ghosts which shows Sonjas
prowess at carrying a very minimal song by the virtue of mostly her voice with
The classical elements are straightforward, obvious and
welcomed in a world that has forgotten how to pluck a string or handle a
bow. Its nice to run into an outfit who not only remembers how music
was but is able to bring it forward in time with it to combine it with modern
elements without overshadowing either side of the spectrum. The switch from
haunting ambience to pleasant atmospherics adds a surreal quality to Heavy
Petal that I rather enjoyed. Heavy Petal is like a dream that hovers
just on the edge of becoming a night terror, but you dont want to leave
because it hasnt yet and its still so strangely pretty.
Post: 1680 North Vine St., Suite 211, Los Angeles, CA, 90028, USA
Phone: (323) 466-5141
Fax: (323) 466-5121
 Deleriums The Best Of was
reviewed in Legends
 See our
review of Sugar, Spice, Saccharin &
Cyanide in Legends #112.
 With the
exception of my friend John who can pick off a buck at 300 yards
however, is a different kind of bow, but I digress.
Click to Buy!