RELEASE DATE: April 2013

By Kevin Carr

Noctambule - Travel in the Shadow - Marla Fibish and Bruce VictorA mood is much more than a just a feeling. In its richest sense it signifies a gateway to a different world with its own scents and hues; its own vistas, characters, and possibilities. This is an album that creates that kind of mood. Noctambule draws us into a world of night journeys, of shadows and sadness, of deep truths and deep feelings, of beauties unseen in daylight, of whispers and dreams, of terror, loss and redemption. Most of the songs here are musical settings of poetry by Robert Service, Theodore Roethke, Pablo Neruda, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. The arrangements have the kind of genius that reflects lives lived fully, souls not unscathed, but with glittering musical imaginations grounded in joyful glorious experience. The playing is simply beautiful, and the interplay between Bruce Victor's moving, deft yet muscular guitar playing and Marla Fibish's always magic mandolin reminds me of watching two strong dancers moving together, creating so much more than the sum of the parts. Marla's voice has a resonance and power that sweeps one into the worlds these lyrics create. The harmony vocals, each a gem, by Sylvia Herold, Susan Spurlock, and Marla and Bruce among others, are hypnotic - literally - with a phrase intentionally out of sync here, a whisper there - all very effective tricks of the trance trade. One of my favorite cuts was the traditional Irish Madam I'm a Darlin', here sung by Bruce in the voice of a back alley mesmerizer, a roué you might meet well after midnight, who will leave you without your wallet, but glad of the experience.

The pacing of the album generates a momentum that carries one into and through what feels like a profound journey. Robert Service's Insomnia opens the door and introduces the promise of magic and delight in the after dark world. Noctambule also by Service, leads deeper, to a darker yet darkly vital jaunt through the byways of the night lead by an habitué well versed in the joys of the small hours. With Travel in the Shadows by Pablo Neruda, we enter the dream where love and its twin, loss, unite to give the sense the size and majesty of inner life. Then a moment in the dream for a dance, Waltz for Danae, by Bruce and Marla, conveying the sweep and beauty of the forces larger than we know. Next The Bohemian Dreams, Marla's renowned setting of the Service poem, to a melody derived from a Quebecois Waltz clog, here done in floating heartbeat REM state tempo. Then the dream scene shifts to a train speeding through the night with A Suddenness of Trees from Theodore Roethke's Night Journey. We are moving fully through the dreamscape now, images flowing past, Jeri Jones slide guitar a sighing, singing night wind. Next we slow and find ourselves Lost, which is a soft chilling nightmare of fear by Robert Service and done here with echoes of the old English ballads that draw one in and eerily caress before constricting the heart with a grip of ice. Then the pressure lifts - like the rise on a roller coaster before the last drop - with Captain Chalupa, a tune with which Marla celebrates the streetlight-and-shadow nocturnal adventures of her far faring feline. Following is The Sisters from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. This is the territory where love and hate commingle; where treachery and revenge and death are conveyed with haunting, beautiful music and spare, sharp images. And then we begin to rise out of the depths, with a reprise of The Bohemain Dreams, this time sung at first by Bruce with the languor of one waking from a dream laden repose. And with Recuerdo, by Edna St. Vincent Millay, we are back, exhausted and full from a long night's excursion, happy, restored and enriched by our traverse of the depths.

One would indeed have to be a criminally unconscious Noctambule (sleepwalker ) not to enjoy this evocative piece of music making, and I urge all to walk immediately, asleep or awake, to your preferred music supplier to purchase a copy.

Kevin Carr has a touch of musical attention deficit disorder; he plays with Wake the Dead (Celtic/Grateful Dead folk orchestra), Hillbillies from Mars (folk fusion dance band with roots that show), Les Tetes de Violon (Quebecois fiddle band), Charanga (Galician style big band) and Confluence (Irish and Original, with a full complement of family members). He also maintains and plays a large stable of bagpipes.