CD Review

Zoar - "Cassandra"

By Rat Bastard

ZoarZoar's music is often advertised as "Music for the movies in your head." This is a fairly accurate assessment. After all, the music on "Cassandra" would make an excellent soundtrack for a non-existent (or, for that matter, an existent) movie. However, it would be rather unfair and simple-minded to simply pigeonhole "Cassandra" as an album of movie soundtrackesque instrumental music. The music stands on its own, with or without visuals. Of course, it is quite likely that listening to "Cassandra" will evoke visual impressions regardless, and even if you aren't really listening it still makes great background music for the various activities of the darkly-inclined.

The album opens with the title track, which is separated into three movements (each movement occupying a separate track): a dramatic introduction, a slow and melancholy piano-based piece and a more upbeat and dynamic piece which drives onward to the conclusion of the song with neo-tribal beats, distorted guitars, and powerful synth melodies. However, this is the only song divided up like so; the remaining seven songs get to occupy one track each.

Zoar, while having an obvious leaning towards the dark, mysterious, and epic, still manage to provide a large dose of variety in one album, incorporating both modern (guitars, drum programming, synths, assorted noises), as well as more traditional (strings, pianos) sources of instrumentation into the mix. Each song stands alone, threaded together only by the common characteristics of skillful composition and dramatic flare.

Cassandra"The Passing of a Plague" is the one song on the album with any sort of lyrical content, which is actually taken from Henry Miller's "Sexus" and spoken ominously over the music, which sets the perfect tone and mood. And speaking of tone and mood, "An Early Disobedience" is just downright creepy, being less an actual "song" and more a soundscape. Just try sitting alone in your room at night (lights out, of course) with this track playing, and you'll see (or hear, rather) what I mean. "Ligeia" is also similar in vein, but shorter and not nearly as effective as far as I'm concerned.

In short, Zoar's "Cassandra" is a worthy addition to the music collection of any who appreciate modern instrumental music with a dark and mysterious edge. Of course, there are those who simply *must* have lyrics in their songs in order to derive any pleasure from them. Even if you think you might be one of these poor souls, I would still suggest, at the very least, that you give Zoar a listen. Who might even cause you to dust off that imagination and put it to some use. After all, just about everyone likes to dream. Zoar just makes it more convenient by providing a soundtrack. Of course, some of the musical content of "Cassandra" might be better suited for nightmares. Then again, as some of us are no doubt well aware, nightmares can sometimes be fun.

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