V/A - Penumbra over Beauty - CD - 14 tracks - Chaos.Pro - 2004

First of all, it is necessary to mention that the Chinese label Chaos Pro, pressed by a government decision, has unfortunately ceased to exist now. May all those who think that they live (and complain about it) in a (European) dictatorial country, meditate on this...

Released last summer, 'Penumbra over Beauty' is a compilation featuring artists from Europe, America and Asia with projects ranging from dark folk, ambient to industrial… some of them we already know, some to discover. For sure, the fact that a Chinese (non European) label is at the origin of this project will surprise some persons and make them pass their way... But in this case, they will just deny themselves a very interesting and enjoyable compilation in the line of 'Cavalcare La Tigre', 'Le Jardin des Supplices'...

The Hungarian band Cawatana delivers a very good track, (built upon melodies played by guitars, piano, soft percussions and additional Hungarian lyrics) which frankly reconciles me with their music. In Gowan Ring's contribution 'Christina's Song' does not necessitate many comments as the beauty of this song speaks for itself...
As for Ritual Front... well, I must admit I like a lot their electronic 80's sound… despite all the clichés that stick to the band and their music (due in part to the Russian language), 'The Hymn that is not often sung' does not pass unnoticed here.
As one could expect, Decadence from Hellas has contributed one of the best tracks gathered here.
'A martyr exposed' gives the proof, if needed, that Petros definitely has a true talent when it comes to composing melancholic music. Decadence stands today as one of the few neoclassical/dark folk acts that really has something interesting to express and that does it with talent and class!
I could say the same of Darkwood that offers a new and brilliant version of 'Winter' (originally present on his debut album 'In the Fields'). Tscheljabinsk65, another talented German project, delivers a nice and delicate neofolk composition, that suggests that this band, despite its obvious affiliation to :Of The Wand And The Moon: is also able to carry a unique and special feeling.
'Penumbra over Beauty' closes on 'The fool' by the Chinese band The Golden Bough for their first international appearance... My ignorance of the Chinese language does not allow me to determine if it is a Tony Wakeford cover... Anyway, it does not prevent me from appreciating the sensibility and fragility contained in this song... a melancholic piano accompagnied by a string (Asian?) instrument and a additionnal singing reminescent of David Michael (Tibet)'s suffering vocals...
A very good surprise that also reminds that the transmission of emotion is far from being the prerogative of European music only.

All in all, this is a very honnest and homogeneous compilation that is enjoyable in its whole.

The cd comes in a nice digifile including an 8 pages booklet. One can only regret that the bands contacts (especially those unknown) do not feature on it.

All our encouragements/support go to Shen, of course. We can only hope to see him quickly active again, in his homeland or elsewhere...

Nathalie F.
Winter 2004/05

Chaos.Pro: www.chaospro.net