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I adored The Eden House’s most recent album, ‘Songs for the Broken Ones’, and declared it to be comprised of “perfectly orchestrated soundscapes of blissful enchantment”, with a concomitant 10/10 score. I concluded by saying: “This is the kind of art that feeds the soul in the most positive of ways. I feel elated and enlightened after each listening experience... in the most secular of ways, I hasten to add. This is about secular spirituality and transcendence, for me. And perfection.” Yep, it’s fair to say I was, and still am, quite taken with the record! Louise Patricia Crane was one of the vocalists from said album, appearing on two of the tracks, ‘Misery’ and ‘The Ardent Tide’, so I was utterly delighted when her debut solo album, ‘Deep Blue’, arrived for review. I was equally delighted to discover, when reading the press blurb, that beyond musical influences, Crane’s art has been inspired by Jaromil Jireš’ uniquely sublime and poetically enchanting 1970 film, ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’. There are no words that’ll fully convey how profoundly in love I am, and always have been, with this movie. There’s also mention of Angela Carter as an inspiration, whose iconoclastic werewolf-themed short story, ‘The Company of Wolves’, was, of course, adapted into the equally iconoclastic Neil Jordan movie of the same name, with Jordan himself inspired by ‘Valerie…’, amongst other influences (which also included Wojciech J. Has’ 1965 film, ‘The Saragossa Manuscript’). So, yeah, appetite whetted good and proper.

Musically, in very general terms, there’s a discernible vibe of The Eden House with some of the material, but with Stephen Carey as a key collaborator (compositionally, musically and as producer), and the participation of drummer Simon Rippin, I guess it’s kind of a corollary that one or two Eden House idioms have made their way into the music. Notable amongst other participants are latter day (and still current) King Crimson vocalist/guitarist Jakko Jakszyk; Jethro Tull minstrel and prog legend Ian Anderson contributes his distinctive flute to a couple of songs; bassist Scott Reeder from stoner legends Kyuss also features on two tracks; as well as sporadic New Model Army collaborator and ephemeral Eluveitie violinist, Shir-Ran Yinon, who appears on ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Isolde’. John Devine, who plays uilleann pipes on ‘Painted World’, is also worthy of mention - proof that the uilleann pipes aren’t all about Troy Donockley! And all that talent translates into a riveting and refined reification of Crane and Carey’s compositions.

However, despite all the personnel involved and fleeting Eden House similarities, ‘Deep Blue’ feels very much its own self-styled space, resplendent with feminine charms through its musical dreamscapes, where Crane’s captivating vocals have found their true home. She certainly has a wide range in terms of power, emotion and tonality, but she’s opted for more of a deliciously dreamy delivery, rather than soaring vigour, throughout much of the album… albeit she does soar on occasion, as and when crescendos in the music warrant such. Likewise, the instrumentations hold a profound sense of dreamy allure. There’s a degree of melancholy in some of the songs, but it never feels overly sombre or maudlin; it never serves to distance through the listening experience. We’re talking refined, artistic melancholy here, which ultimately forms part of the music’s alluring appeal, rather than introspective despondency. These are songs that welcome you with open arms; ready to embrace you with a shared sense of escapism. That’s how it made me feel, anyway.

Interestingly (and, dare I say, initially disappointingly, but I got over it!), there’s no overt ‘Valerie…’ worship on the album, at least not in terms of any cues lifted from Lubos Fiser’s exquisite score, as with the late Trish Keenan’s ode to the movie on Broadcast’s 2003 album, ‘Haha Sound’. So the inspiration evidently materialises more within ‘Deep Blue’s prevailing feminine aesthetic, along with its transcendent beauty and escapism into the realm of reverie; an alluring space where imagination and anima flourish through musical stimulus and captivation. And stimulate and captivate the album does. Sanity-replenishing escapism, soul-nourishing stimuli and, ultimately, cathartic-inducing therapy is what ‘Deep Blue’ provides (in my experience, at least)… which are all much needed right now. A beautiful record.
Peculiar Doll Records
Review by Mark Holmes
15th May 2020
1) Deity
2) Snake Oil
3) Painted World
4) Cascading
5) Deep Blue
6) Ophelia
7) Isolde
8) The Eve of the Hunter
"...transcendent beauty and escapism into the realm of reverie; an alluring space where imagination and anima flourish through musical stimulus and captivation."