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Steven Severin - The Woman in the Dunes (RE:)

Steven Severin's third RE:release was specially commissioned by Shakti and the Vasanta Mala dance company to accompany their stage production of the Kobo Abe novel of the same name. Thankfully, though, this suffers less from that fact than his previous release, "Maldoro", did. Whereas "Maldoro" did not stand up very well as music divorced from the visual performance, this does have more of a melodic, ambient fell to it. However, there is nothing ground-breaking here, and when a track like 'Dance of Sissyphus', little more than a loop of pulses and washes of sound, stretches to over 10 minutes long, it does get rather monotonous. It sounds fine as background noise, but it is very hard to sit down and listen to without hitting the fast forward button. 'Dance of Eros' adds a funkier bass line, but still, it does little more than that over 12½ minutes.

Everything changes, though, with 'I put a spell on you, the version of the late Screaming Jay Hawkins classic. Originally recorded by the great Jarboe (ex-Swans) with Nick Pagan of The Changelings on piano, Steven Severin adds a dark undertow of booming and oppressive atmosphere. The result is amazing, the twisted torch-song vocals, the raw piano playing and powerful noises underneath it all. This track, hopefully, gives a glimpse of what Mr Severin intends to do in the future - strange and out of the ordinary collaborations with underground figures he's contacted through the years.

by Donnacha DeLong

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