CD Review

Tara Van Flower - "This Womb Like Liquid Honey"

By Mike Ventarola

This Womb Like Liquid HoneyMs. Van Flower offers and challenges listeners to escalate to a cerebral height with this outing. This Womb Like Liquid Honey, despite it's title, is neither sexually titillating nor mundane. In fact, a common theme utilizing musical metaphor in child like fashion indicates the Aesop like ability of this artist. She deftly careens around subject matter while making the listener imbibe the message inherit within. Only upon repeated listening can one ascertain the brilliance of this project.

The opening song, Opal Star is a sing song child's anthem of "twinkle twinkle little star," reverbed to indicate the evolution of past and present. This convergence is further touched upon as the song is played backward. The star child's soul who is leaving the etheric world to inhabit a human form. Pink Fingers begins with dark singular beats and synth phasing sound effects drawing us to the start of our story. One could almost envision the lyrics coming from the infant's perspective as he communes telepathically with his host/mother. We are invited to peak at the "carnage" of this birthing process in a very subtle way. When one thinks of birth it is a form of beauty, yet it is also a picture of bloodshed.

This Womb Like Liquid Honey with heartbeats echoing and Tara's voice chanting at the opening, she segues to the infant's perspective of a warm and comfortable environment. This comfort is destroyed as the Universe pulls us into the river of life. We often are back in this state of mind in real life when time seems to pull relentlessly forward numbing us from ourselves. Little Bleu Cherry Girl is a measured cacophony of sound with a young child's recitation of surrealistic dialogue. It seems as if an imaginary play thing is the receiver of this stream of consciousness. It is a recitation that would have made James Joyce and William Faulkner proud. This is not meant to be pretty, melodic music. This deftly illustrates via sound a child hood that is confusing, repetitious and frightening. It is a piece that constructs the loss of innocence as we explore a fearful world. We are devoid of the womb-like comfort where security abounds.

Bugbear, darkly ethereal in tone, further explores the lack of safety in our inner world. One succumbs to external pleasantries but is internally corrupted. This song reminds me of therapy utilized for children from abused homes. Often these children project their negative thoughts and angers onto a doll or stuffed toy. This process extrapolates much of the overt violence and violations that a small child has endured at the hands of those meant to comfort and love. This song peeks at the issue without overtly clobbering the listener. Elephant is a fluted rendition of the motion of an elephant's trunk. Is this the internal sound of a child further corrupted and violated on psychotropic medication? If one imagines an elephant at the zoo and listens to this track, you cannot help but be astounded at how the artist yet again takes something out of the ordinary to supply a "soundtrack" quality to it's movement.

Ezekiel 37:1:14 is more anxious in tone. It is a consummation of inward and outward desecration. Deep synth like bangs and measured chords play out the drama against the tapestry. Child like anthems and sing song voice deal with "devils march and mark you dead." Black Fuzzy showcases the Aesop like ingenuity of the artist. The depiction of a lethal spider is juxtaposed over that of someone in a pin striped suit. We all know people like this. Those who can charm and draw us in but ultimately use us as prey. Sometimes we fall in love with this type only to discover too late that our heart has decayed in the process. "I see a spider/ he's got a lotta charm / a barbed wire grin / he will cause me lots of harm."

Galactipus is another instrumental piece plummeting us to the next level of loss in the myriad of internal struggle. Multi-layers of sound swirl in what sounds like echoes in the wind. It is a dark reflection of the internal void, filled with whispers and wails from a past that is somewhat tragic. Zygote: The Nothing is probably the most "commercial" of all the songs presented. It has a driving dance beat accompanied to frothing water bubbles. We revisit the womb but on an adult level that makes this song appear to be a desecration of the fetus during an abortion procedure. The Old Hag totally descends into a recriminatory hell for past deeds that have totally annihilated the will and the soul. All the internal ugliness one can muster are rolled into one person who somehow receives poignant insight to the abject repulsiveness of their actions. We are led to comprehend that the child within was previously expunged and replaced with someone with a blackened soul of degradation. It is after amassing a level of total debasement, did awareness of these actions take root to attempt to reclaim lost innocence. Talitha Koum (Hebrews 2:14) is an amalgamation of a tinkling crib toy with spoken vocals and sound effects. It is the reclaimed soul confronting its darkness as it is forced to venture into hell.

This Womb Like Liquid Honey is not meant for those devoid of mental rumination. It is what I would consider high Gothic musical art. The work brings Tara to a level of genius as seen in artists such as Jarboe, Diamanda Galas, and Bjork. Many Lycia fans may be taken aback by this quixotic venture into a world of lost innocence and total self annihilation. It is quite admirable that Ms. Van Flower tackled a subject matter of this proportion and created a variegated vista of multiple levels. She could have chosen to make her first solo outing a more commercially viable vehicle, but to do so would have stripped her fans from the challenge to be reflective. This work requires repeated listenings to absorb the full impact of the often intentional double meanings and ambiguity. I can only hope that Gothic/Ethereal fans continue to demonstrate their inate ability to embrace precocity as set forth with this release.

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Web: http://www.lyciummusic.com/release%20folder/thiswomb.release.html

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