Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadow - "Mitternacht"

How can a mere mortal describe the entity and primary creative force behind Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadow?  Anna-Varney Cantodea is hard to accept as a real being.  She seems so otherworldly and surreal you naturally want to assume she is a character, like Elvira, that someone just dons temporarily to entertain.  The truth is that Anna-Varney is her own creation and her own person.  We are enriched in this world that someone could live so bravely honest with who they are and how they feel.  That Anna-Varney has the talent and the willingness to express her inner thoughts and emotions is awe-inspiring.

Opening the airmail package to reveal the slim and beautiful glossy book I signed in relief, finally a musician has given me a product fully constructed and realized.  From the numbered and autographed bookplate to the credits at the end the book is beautiful.  Every detail seems carefully planned and thoughtfully executed.  The artwork within by Anastasiva Chyringa is a perfect match to the atmosphere created by the CD.  I have now begun searching out more Sopor Aeternus CDs to purchase in physical form.  I will cherish and display this CD with pride.

If you are familiar with Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows you will find nothing surprising or new in this record.  You will find everything you love about them fully engaged and arousing your senses.  I find the more effort you put into making the listening an experience the more you get out of it.  Light some candles, burn some incense, have some wine or absinthe, open you mind and heart.  Let Anna-Varney take on a pilgrimage of her soul and in return revisit some of the dark places you might have forgotten within your own.  You will be comforted and receive solace in the gentle caresses of her musical arms.  It is a cleansing and spiritually invigorating experience..

Quick impressions track by track:

1. "Mitternacht"  - Crackling fire, pompous brass - makes me think "New Orleans Jazz Funeral Procession"

2. "Beautiful" - already one of my favorites - Anna-Varney praises the beauty of a man in her hopelessly desperate and tragically beautiful way that only she can.  The honesty and integrity of her emotions is palpable.

3. "La Prima Vez" - dreamy and dark 

4. "Bang-Bang" - I cringed at first thinking this was going to be a campy disaster of a cover version, but I was sucked into the fantasy world of Anna-Varney and found myself picturing this drama playing out between the two characters that once upon a time played a game of innocent childhood, but now it has been twisted and perverted into something much more sinister and bizarre.  

5. "The Boy Has Built a Catacomb"  - "The boy has built a catacomb, he's living in a tomb, below the ground, where there's no sound...- he is hiding from the world."

6. "Carnival of Souls" - Playful and creepy; a must play for a Halloween celebration.

7. "Confessional" - Absolute honesty and revealing.   Raw and poignant but not despairing.  Ultimately hopeful and romantic.  This song epitomizes everything I find mesmerizing and brilliant in Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadow.

8. "Under His Light" - poetic and perilously pensive

9. "You Cannot Make Him Love You" - A scary and direct song dealing with gender issues and rejection.

10. "Into the Night" -  an eerie and dreamy instrumental

11. "If You Could Only Read My Mind" - More brutal truth and crushing emotions laid bare.

12. "It's Just That My Sadness" - Ridicule and betrayal between those we trusted as friends...

13. "Under His Light (2)" - instrumental

14. "Miniature" - Unrequited love, wishing happiness for one you can never have...I only hope that I
am that strong.


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