Friday, 25 February 2011

Seven Days of Hekate: HEKATE NYCTIPOLUS (Review)

A devotee of the Goddess Hekate, visionary writer and astrologer Jade Sol Luna last year released his phenomenal chanting album Hekate Nyctipolus, which reached the top 25 on the Greek International Music billboard during it's first month of release!

So I was more than humbled (and a little nervous) to be approached by Jade himself on Facebook and asked to review this new album, being privileged to receive all the tracks via e-mail before their actual release. I also took the opportunity to find out a little more about the Nyctipolus project itself.

As per all of Jade's CDs, there was much invocation and meditation on the Goddess Hekate from which Jade used his experiences to bring his music to life. "I create the ambient music and the chants," said Jade of the process. "Then send it to the Mediterranean group Egyptian Ritual and they sample their music over my dark ambient."

Six months in the making, this album reflects the inner experiences of Jade and he feels that this CD is perhaps his most successful to date, for that purpose alone. "Love it or hate it, a deep part of my connection to Hecate is experienced; I have never had a relationship to my CDs like this one."

So it's not altogether surprising that I have taken my time reviewing Hekate Nyctipolus [yes, life has thrown plenty of obstacles in my way but I've been working slowly on this review for some time since being asked]. Like a true musician, this album is part of Jade and his own experience and I have taken each track on its own and as part of the bigger picture, listening to the tracks many times and using them in my own ritual and meditation.

Having not heard any of Jade's previous chanting albums, the whole sound and concept was new to me but my devotion to Hekate was something I could relate to through the seven tracks. I have found Nyctipolus to be a door opener to yet more facets of Hekate, with its chaotic symphony of sounds that come together in a unique and empowering way, conjuring a shared experience that each person can interpret differently within themselves.

Enodia, taking it's name from the epithet meaning "Of the Roads", is a fitting piece to kick start our journey and with Jade's own reading of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate, it feels like a transitional piece, laying foundations to a powerful collection of inspirational music. This track has familiarity in as much as the Hymn carries it's visual imagery in words from across the ages, having that innate quality of being recognisable even set amidst new sounds.

As the lilting sound of lyre plucks fades, Aidonoaia (Lady of the Underworld) begins. This is perhaps my favourite track of the album and I find it extremely powerful. Haunting with its authentic background vocals and instruments, it takes the listener back to a time lost, inherently visual of ancient rites that contain an undercurrent of Bacchic frenzy; and all this is punctuated by the power of Jade's own recitation of the petition for Hekate's patronage from Hippolytus' Philosphumena.

Truthfully, Hex was at first my least favourite track of the album but when the candles flicker and the incense smoke curls all around, this is the Keeper of the Keys; I have found this opens doors on all levels to Hekate. Dark, ambient chanting permeates throughout and long after Hex has ended will it resonate in body, mind and soul.

Night Wanderer, the epithet translated from the album title, despite an initial "simplicity" to it's sound continues that permeable resonance with it's sepulchral tones. Deep and primal, this track conjures Hekate through Jade's vocals from within the self. This is where Hekate ascends into the mortal world, serene but full of dark mystery; the echo of chamber sounds, finished by distant chimes and pipes bringing to my mind an image of Hekate as She collects her midnight offerings from the Crossroads on the darkest of nights.

Hekates Whip is the track I like to play as loud as I can. The sensation of each and every syllable of Jade's potent chanting all around brings out this tracks deep mystery. By now the listener should be no stranger to the dark air that travels within these pieces, but here you are almost guided down to your own personal darkness. Like the title suggests, it's like a musical scourging that allows the mind to free itself to the Shadow Self. With it's sense of the Kthonic, the sound of bats, resonating horns, the tinkling of chimes, Jade's own unique synthesised sounds create a truly profound listening experience.

With an air of shamanistic trance, Antaia (the One in Front) instantly fills you with it's beat, urging you to move; here Hekate is urging your to walk the Path before you. Once again Jade's vocals stir up a power that unlocks those inner Hekatean energies, allowing them to spiral up as the rattles, drums and other percussion free your mind. The repetitious chant is focusing and empowering and played against the backdrop of heady incense and soft candle light can easily be a doorway to an altered state, where Hekate holds the key to the subconscious. Next to Aidonoaia, this is easily my next favourite track.

The last track, Storm Goddess, I have found it the most difficult to write about. Not because I don't like it or that there is anything negative to say about it, but just that somehow words escape me. Calling upon Hekate Perseis (Destroyer) the presence of the new sounds with the old, Jade's personal flare for potent chanting and the imagining of Hekate in this capacity as Storm Goddess create a truly unique experience. Somehow fitting as the closing track, there is a sense of the self in the drumming, reminiscent of one's own heartbeat. Again if taken on it's own, this is a very useful track for ritual and/or meditation, with its soft synths and steady beat, permeated by distant cymbals.

Overall, this is an experiential, visionary and energising collection of sounds that reflect one man's relationship with Hekate as well as being capable of allowing each new listener to relate to the Goddess and/or the darker aspects of their being. The seven tracks invoke Hekate's power to find the balance in our own potential by unleashing visions of a multi-faceted Diety to which more and more people are experiencing and devoting parts of their life to.

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