Illusory by Jarboe
Jarboe’s follow-up to the acclaimed Cut of the Warrior of 2018 takes the gentlest ever approach to
sound. From the eponymous title track to the concluding Man of Hate and excluding the “pure”
instrumental, Illusory presents the accessible side of her musical vision which is rooted in the
exploratory and the avant garde. Guitar, organ, piano, percussion and mellotron back Jarboe on this
gem, while her selection and employment of sound effects are spot-on, as always.
On the title track, keyboards, organ and piano grace her light, breezy voice in a reflection on delusion,
self-deception and time’s inability to heal all wounds. The arrangement and delivery may at first
resemble the dark torch songs on Swans’ Children Of God or Skin’s Blood, Women, Roses but
resignation has replaced the brooding intensity of those early classics.
The minimalist lament Arrival has wordless jazzy vocals for two voices, with churning synths and
scattered percussion that slowly accelerate towards an uptempo beat. It’s the latest in a long line of
songs where Jarboe wields her voice like an instrument, e.g. And I Call Myself Hag from Blackmouth
(2000), Under Will on Anhedoniac, (1998) and Durto James on Indemnity 2 (2012). It’s also her latest
lullaby, a genre she’s explored in songs like Blood on your Hands from World of Skin and Mother’s
Milk from The Great Annihilator.
Cathedral opens with the distant strains of a
hymn amidst ominous rumbles, then swells on
the lips of an a cappella choir to resonate along
the aisles and up against the ceiling and stained
glass windows. The mysterious liturgical
language might hark back to an ancient folk
memory of ritual in a temple long abandoned.
An abrupt end to the entwining choral vocals
and synth loops brings a turbulent coda of eerie
growls and sinister whispers, (like in Raktabija
from Durga and Her Smile of Radiant
Vengeance) that’s pierced by a monophonic
melody line into the swirling soundscape which