The Moors (self-titled CD, Hyperium records, Germany; re-released on Forest of the Fae / Dark Symphonies, USA)

Captured my fascination, forging a contradiction: courage to channel what their muses offered, yet discernment in interpretation, arrangement, expression & production.

Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha sings/chants in English, Gaelic, French, Bulgarian, Latin & Pictish; plays many instruments including Irish pennywhistle, viol, viola, Tibetan wood flute and harp; cites Ancestral Memory (Clan MacLeod/Sidhe), scholarship, otherworld journeying and shamanism, authoring Queen of the Night: rediscovering Celtic Moon Goddess (Weiser Books). The duo’s other genius, Scott Dakota, contributed wide-range fretless guitar that he designed and crafted, along with self-modified guitars & analog effects, bowed 2-string fretless viol, overtone singing, loops, drones & Pythagorean/Sumerian/Quantum consciousness. Minus synths, keyboards or sound modules, otherworldliness enhanced by fretless guitar or woodwinds; few fixed pitch equal-tempered instruments manifest; instead, just-intonated tuning provided more notes, strengthened expressive range and authenticity, for psycho-acoustical components of intonation were well known to the ancients. The Moors proved that enchantment need not be pretty. Most popular proponents of Celtic lore are not its definitive guides; the line between nostalgia and sentimentality is thin. It’s no less easy to err in the opposite occult direction – clichés of orgiastic hedonism, fetishism or melodrama, as exhibitionists compete to shock, break the next taboo, as if flamboyant promiscuity equated with credibility. The Moors struck a path through that thicket, between pretty and vulgar, with precision of accomplished archers. Their wild energy is masterfully directed. At the risk of indulging in too many metaphors, I feel compelled from song to song on a thematic journey on a sturdily crafted vessel that never wavers from its course. A favourite is #5 Belen-Gaard. Serene in trembling constant ecstasy, as if sap in trees were humming with insects, bats, wings of Sidhe and sway of water, turning over sands and constellations.