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Vequinox

Planetary Harmony
Venuscape

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Sometimes it takes a while in Pittsburgh to kick-start the sort of esoteric music that takes root more naturally in cosmopolitan places such as, say, New York or San Francisco. In our city's case, we're lucky to finally have a full-fledged example of what Europeans call an "apocalyptic folk" band, a crossover of darkwave and traditionalism that was hinted at in the past by the ethereality of Underflowers and the British/Celtic folk expertise of Chuck Owston, but never fully realized until the new Vequinox CD.

 

A trio consisting of multi-instrumentalists/vocalists Chad and Lisa Porch, plus Chad's brother Randy on percussion, the background of Vequinox is perhaps somewhat obscure to the average listener. Aficionados of the darker side of folk -- or the folkier side of dark -- will plainly recognize the influences of Dead Can Dance and Death in June, as well as references to Current 93 and Legendary Pink Dots (one can almost hear the rune-casting spectre of Edward Ka-Spel singing along with Lisa on "End of Time").

 

However, it's easier for most punters to spot the pair's debts to keyboard-laden '80s new wave -- Chad's guitar lines on "Battlefield" are lifted straight from The Cure or New Order. And for the old-time Calliope heads or Arthur magazine readers, the somber rendition of trad ballad "Edward" hearkens back to the late-'60s heyday of Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band. Those same people might recognize the affinity Vequinox might have for denizens of the New Age, pagan and Renaissance Fair communities, as well as for more open-minded goths and the New Weird Folk crowd.

 

To Vequinox's credit, there are a lot of potential ideas floating around on this CD, and it's understandable that with its considerable musical prowess and collection of exotic instruments (including the sitar and bowed psaltery), the band would be reluctant to settle on a specific sound or direction. Let's just call Vequinox's members globe-spanning explorers, reluctant to settle on too simplistic a definition of "world music" while there are so still so many cultural strains to be absorbed.

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