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Land of the Blind


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

"ambient tribal celtic world dream pop alt rock medieval Middle Eastern dreamscapes"

Status:

Most recent album, Ordinary Magic (2000)

See also:

Land of the Blind site

The Ectophiles' Guide entries for Cyoakha Grace O'Manion and Azigza

Comparisons:

Ingrid Karklins, Dead Can Dance, The Changelings, later My Scarlet Life

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, some covers

General comments:

Land of the Blind has members in both Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. They have released two CDs, on local Portland labels. They play primarily on the west coast.
     The lineup is fairly fluid, but Cyoakha is the motivating force behind the group. She's the lead singer and writes, or co-writes, all of their songs.
     Their sound is unique and difficult to describe. They describe themselves as ambient-tribal-celtic-world-dream-pop-alt-rock-medieval-Middle Eastern dreamscapes, which is an excellent description. They have a unique sound, that's for sure. To me, Cyoakha's voice sounds a bit like early Pat Benatar (she has a similar timbre of her voice) singing Heather Nova lyrics. The band plays a wide variety of instruments (keyboards, piano, drums, flutes, didgeridoo, but no guitars).
     The songs (both music and lyrics) are strong and very interesting to listen to. They are incredibly dynamic and energetic as a live band. Unfortunately, their two albums don't completely capture that dynamism and energy, although the second album (Out of Chaos...) comes closer. Part of this is caused by somewhat lower-than-average production, but I also find some of the song's arrangements a little busy at times.
     They have been known to perform a couple of excellent Kate Bush covers live and have (two versions of) an excellent cover of Jane Siberry's "Calling All Angels" on their first album, One Eye. (bvmi@odin.cc.pdx.edu)

I had an intuitive feeling that I was going to like what Cyoakha was doing musically, so I was anxious to hear the music. My intuition was right on, and this music even surpassed my high expectations. To describe this music in writing is the tough part. On their web page the words ambient-tribal-trance-celtic-world-dream-alt-rock-medieval-middle eastern dreamscapes appear, which is actually a pretty good one-phrase description of their music. However, this only gives a vague sense of some aspect of the music, but doesn't really hint at the depth of this music. To appreciate the depth, of course, you must listen to the music. Some thoughts and feelings that come to me as I listen are avant-garde cutting edge creations, full of intelligence, insight, innovations, and exploration, perhaps a Laurie Anderson experimental type perspective. At times I hear Ingrid Karklins thunder god Perkon rearing its head, and at other times I remotely sense the angst of Diamanda Galas or the unique signature of something like The Kronos Quartet. Sometimes I hear the far-off exotic sounds of remote and distant countries, and ancient civilizations. I feel drawn into another universe, strange, unfamiliar, exciting, frightening, elements of creation, no solid ground to stand on. Basically, it's the kind of music that really excites me, the kind of music I want to tell other people about and share it as much as possible. I think we have a treasure in our midst, Land Of The Blind. (jsutton@rahul.net)

The music is diverse, and that always means that your mileage may vary from track to track. I also picked up on the Ingrid Karklins comparison on one or two tracks. While Ingrid Karklins and Land oof the Blind are not generally to be compared, I think it is a safe bet that fans of one would enjoy the other. (JavaHo@aol.com)

Comments about live performance:

Saw Land of the Blind playing. They are good! Four women in the band and 2-4 men depending. This time there were two. They had two drummers (sometimes 3) and a didgeridoo player, who also did the electronics. Four women sing, three exchange lead on different songs. All harmonize. One plays flute, one keyboards, one drums, tambourine and trade off. Pretty versatile bunch! Covers played were Kate Bush's "The Big Sky", "Running Up That Hill", a Eurythmics song "In The City," and Jane Siberry's "Calling All Angels," which is on One Eye. They played 3 sets concentrating on intensity and power rather than subtlety because of the shortcomings of the venue; if I hadn't been in front "Angels" would have been drowned out. (mp@moonmac.com)

Land of the Blind is great live! While I quite like out of the chaos, seeing them live (especially Cyoakha) was a revelation. They have so more energy that they're almost electric. I will not WILL NOT miss them when they come to town again if I can help it. Musically the band was crisp and tribal both. I'd like to say it's what Dead Can Dance would be like if they weren't Dead. Cyoakha's powerful voice is much more intense live than on the albums. I don't think there's a way recorded media can actually capture what the sound is like and of course how delightfully theatrical (though not overdone unless you automatically place belly dancing in the overdone category) their performance is. (1998, Neile)

since i had heard that this was a hybrid group we were seeing over the weekend, i chose to describe it as "the posse" rather than land of the blind. i vote for calling this "live" creation cyoakha's chaos <grin>. they really were an impressive group that sounded incredibly tight while still free-wheeling. (6/01, tjshadb@voyuz.net)

Recommended first album:

Out of Chaos (into the whirlwind)

Recordings:


One Eye

Release info:

1995?—Rainforest Records—RR 021

Availability:

U.S. West Coast stores that carry indie releases, Harmony Ridge Music, and by mail order from band (see address below)

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Land of the Blind fans

Group members:

Cyoakha
Gary Irvine
Nancy Cady
Janice Deschene
Steffanie Salazar

Produced by:

Two songs produced by Bobby Torres, rest by Land of the Blind

Comments:

An introduction to their sound, but I recommend Out of Chaos (into the whirlwind) more highly as a better starting place. (Neile)

This album has two versions of an excellent cover of Jane Siberry's "Calling All Angels". (bvmi@odin.cc.pdx.edu)

I picked up the first album after a promising and odd concert experience when visiting Portland, and I found it quite mediocre. Even 1/3 of the band, and half of them feverish, were more exciting than the disc, which washed out and smoothed over the rhythmic intricacies and varying instruments. I can't really recommend it. Their second album is far far better. (neal)


Out of Chaos (into the whirlwind)

Release info:

1997—NW New Music, 3439 NE Sandy Blvd., Suite 266, Portland, OR 97232, U.S.A., 503-321-5093

Availability:

U.S. West Coast stores that carry indie releases, Harmony Ridge Music, and by mail order from band (see address below)

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Cyoakha—voices, words, artwork, ducivi, boing-boing, goose horn
Melo—flutes, congas, wind synth, keyboards
Krystov—didgeridoo, animals,chants
Tony Boughen—keyboards, accordion
Regina LaRocca—bass, backing vocals

"Blind Sighted":

Gary Irvine—drums, congas
Janice Deschene—additional vocals
Larry Bear—bass
Noreen Flynn—dumbeck
Ashbolt Stewart—congas, boing-boing
Botielus—keyboards/accordion
Melvin Brannon, Jr.—bass, bowed bass

Guest artists:

Reinhardt Melz—drum kit
Verin Vereal (Bakshish)—tablas
Paul Cranish (Bakshish)—viotron
Lawrence Gelburd—Hebrew prayer
John Lemon—keyboards
Krystov, Billy Triplett, Gary Irvine—monks
Robert Morning Sky—Hopi prophecies

Produced by:

Land of the Blind

Comments:

Serendipity treat, better than opium. Out Of The Chaos is, in my opinion, the epitome of ecto, Happy notwithstanding.. :), and I would highly recommend it to anyone with any sense of the ethereal at all. It still has a major spot in my CD rotation and has perked up the ears of a number of my acquaintances. If you don't already have this gem, what the hell are you waiting for?? (rkonrad@ibm.net)

The packaging is very dark—much more so than the music. Fans of My Scarlet Life should definitely check them out, as I find the bands to be fairly similar in sound, though I think Land of the Blind is a little more melodic, but without being pop. Haven't really had a chance to listen to it thoroughly enough to pick out my favorite tracks, but I definitely like the tracks with the piano. A very rich album, it reminds me also of some of the bands on the Projekt label. I highly recommend it to people who like some of the more trance-dub, world music sound. (jjhanson@att.net)

I found this to be a dramatically different beast from the first album—there is an edginess to it that makes it an interesting listen, but I have trouble making everything gel together in my head as an album. There are lots of distinct elements I like scattered all over the disc, but they haven't all clicked together for me. Recording live was definitely a great idea. The band and arrangements are constantly intriguing, and everything sounds much better than on the first disc. I can relate a bit to the comparison to My Scarlet Life's Trypnotica (more than the album previous to that, Reliquaries). (neal)

I have also found this an album with some wonderful elements—my favourite is the song "Albino Luciani" which makes me hit the repeat button more than once when I'm giving the album a listen. It has a particularly great weaving of percussion and flowing vocals. "Wedding Song" is also a favourite for the same reasons. (Neile)

I received out of chaos earlier this year and I consider it among my favourite releases of 1997. It managed my repetitive-playing-test with a charm. (klaus.kluge@gmx.de)

Quite wonderful! (valerie@smoe.org)

It's fantastic. The music is so layered and has so many influences, there are wonderful surprises every time I listen to it. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I must recommend Out of Chaos as the first/best disc if anyone is considering ordering. The stunner on this disc is "Albino Luciani" which swerves from an almost mantra-like verse to a chorus with soaring, near-operatic vocals (That girl has some pipes on her!). A personal fave from that disc is "The Wedding Song". This is not the one you hear at weddings. I was going through the beginming of the end of my marriage when I first heard it, and it almost knocked me over. Another winner is the very ethnic sounding "Hungarian Blue". It's easy to find yourself humming along with this one. (JavaHo@aol.com)


Church of the Holy Trees (CDR single)

Release info:

1998—Land of the Blind

Availability:

Special edition to benefit Cascadia Forest Defenders and Earth First, Julia & "Luna" Butterfly. By mail order from band (see address below)

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of Land of the Blind and for those who want to support the associated causes

Comments:

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes the world-trance-pop-rock.... sound of Land of the Blind. "Church of the Holy Trees" is a driving, entrancing song, and "Eliza" a haunting tune. I look forward to more full-length projects. (Neile)

MonsterMotherTree (CDR ep)

Release info:

1998—Land of the Blind

Availability:

By mail order from band (see address below)

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of Land of the Blind

Comments:

This six-track ep includes versions of both songs on the previous single, as well as three other songs and a version of the Christmas song "Drummer Boy". I'd recommend this to anyone who likes the Land of the Blind, especially as they seem to be getting closer and closer all the time to being able to reproduce their live sound and energy on recordings. This makes me look forward with anticipation to future full-length projects. (Neile)

Ordinary Magic

Release info:

2000—O'Manion Music Co

Availability:

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of tribal/dance music

Group members:

Regina LaRocca—bass, backing vocals, bouzouki, chants
Krystov—digeridoo, dulcimer, sitar, gruntman, bee-horn
Cyoakha—vocals, toys, dumbek, cookie tin, keys, samples
Equinox—keys, chants
Melo Cady—flutes/recorder, penny whistle, shaker, tamourine, mijwiz

Guest artists:

William Blum—samples, bass, keys, djembe, dumbek, buffalo drum, margarita salt shaker, breaths
David Brownell—bongos on 1 track, kick, danre on 1 track, dumbek on 1 track
Tony Boughten—keys on 1 track
Aspen Walker—drum kit on 3 tracks
Jonathon Howell—native flute, congas on 1 track
Aryek Frankfuter—lead violin on 1 track
S.K. Thoth—Celtic violin on 1 track

Produced by:

Cyoakha Grace; 1 track by William Blum and Cyoakha

Comments:

Finally got Land of the Blind's latest work Ordinary Magic after a long wait. Well two things, it's worth the wait and it's a lot more than "Ordinary". When I started to write this, I asked myself how would you describe this music to someone? I realized I didn't have a clue. I hear other people's descriptions and I guess the word tribal or trance connects in a muddied way. The subject matter is diverse, sometimes dark, sometimes light and uplifting. "Church Of The Holy Trees" a song written for Julia Butterfly is a spiritual chant celebrating the holiness and sacredness of those magnificent creatures that bless our existence. I'm so thankful for this song and its reminder of the work so many dedicated people all over the world are doing to heighten our awareness of the sacredness of all species threatened or not on our planet. I'm not sure what "Eliza" is about but musically it tingles many of my soft spots, melody, vaguely Eastern undercurrent, and mystery. "Mary's Hands" and "A Little More (Monster)" are similar in how they tweak my musical hot buttons, but are totally different musically and in every other aspect. "Witches Of Kilkenny" find another weak spot in my armor, this time the Celtic hole. Now, I understand the chill I felt in my heart as I spied Kilkenny from a high tower over looking the town...witches, yes. The last cut "Journey's End" is about 10 minutes long with a Eastern Indian feel and something eerily familiar. I didn't get the connection until about 6 minutes into the song and recognized the "Doors" famous "The End" song. I was really impressed by that Doors song when I first heard it, but only now thanks to the Blind I see it in a very new and unusual light. Great job! (jsutton@rahul.net)

Jack's review was really wonderful and right on the money. His post inspired me to share a few of my thoughts. Here they are:
     Another truly beautiful song on the Ordinary Magic CD is "Mother". This is a gorgeous elegy. Melo's flute and Krystov's dulcimer are so beautiful in accompanying Cy's lovingly bittersweet lyrics and voice.
     "Witches Of Kilkenny" is another favorite of mine. It builds to a ritualistic fever pitch. You can just picture the passionate dancing around the ever-growing flames of the bonfire. (wpm@value.net)

While this doesn't have a song like "Albino Luciani" which stops me cold and makes me keep hitting the repeat button, I think overall this is a stronger album as a whole than Land of the Blind's previous ones, showing growth particularly in the Cyoakha's songwriting—she gets better and better at more and more memorable songs with aural hooks that stick. For me this time it's "Tribe", "Church of the Holy Trees", "Eliza", "The Witches of Kilkenny". (Neile)

i like Ordinary Magic. i think its a very well-executed interpretation of the pieces I've heard live. i'm actually grateful that whomever took the role of producer inserted a level of control and turned the songs "down a notch"; the Ordinary Magic pieces are more listenable in this format.
     okay, that's not making sense, let's try this. if the recordings had the same level of intensity as the live performances i experienced i would honestly NOT be able to listen to this CD very often. as it is, the slightly reigned-in way it comes across allows me listen and really enjoy the music.
     as for which pieces stick out in my mind, of course the ones which i heard live are the highlights ("tribe", "church of the holy trees", "trust") i'll add "witches of kilkenny" and "journey's end" to the list. let's see that would be 5 of the 9 tracks that already stand out in my mind. considering that most CDs only produce 2-3 real stand outs; take that as you will. (tjshadb@voyuz.net)


Further info:

Email: info@landoftheblind.com


Thanks to Michael Bowman for work on this entry.

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