Suddenly Naked Arts Collective, 2007
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/14/2007
Gaia Consort is one of my favorite Pagan bands -- this despite the fact that they steadfastly refuse to be called Pagan. They believe in the interconnectedness of all things and create, in their words, “visionary music for the Freethinking Mystic in all of us, building culture that celebrates the Living Earth. Psychedelic rock with a string trio and a Pagan twist in the tradition of Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and other hallucinogenic masters.”
Admittedly, that’s pretty wordy. In practical terms, Gaia Consort is the pairing of Christopher Bingham and Sue Tinney along with a collection of friends, lovers, co-conspirators and associates. They perform edgy, well-written folk-rock -- but unlike most folk-rock, it kicks ass. There is nothing namby-pamby or wimpy here; Gaia Consort is pissed off at the state of the world, and they’ll be glad to tell you why in no uncertain terms. They’ll also be glad to tell you stories about fairies, mysterious oracles and dancing all night, and they’ll even throw in some humor free of charge. Their latest release, Vitus Dance, is a joy and a delight.
For starters, Vitus Dance just sounds good. The production is impeccable and the band’s trademark harmonies shine and sparkle, especially on tracks like “Oracle.” Gaia Consort is one of the few bands who know how to use a string section; the cello thrums like blood in the temple, the violin wails and cries and the whole thing makes chills run down your spine.
Bingham is a consummate songwriter. “Dirty Little Secret” is a passionate paean to forbidden and hidden love, “All We’ve Got” is a guitar-laced anthem to changing the world from the ground up and “Vitus Dance” challenges you not to dance. I have special fondness for the funkiness of “Heather In The Mead” and the desperately, agonizingly funny “Perils Of Poly” -- which still has a thoughtful barb hidden in its frenzied lyrical tribute to juggling lovers.
Gaia Consort represents the best of the 21st Century record-your-own-CD music renaissance; music that can say what it wants without worrying what the executives think. Vitus Dance is a masterpiece.