THE BEAUTY MARKS are a Long Beach, CA based pagan darkfolk band fronted by multi-instrumentalist singer JOY SHANNON on Celtic harp, cello and harmonium.
The Beauty Marks, whose influences include Patti Smith, Nick Cave and Sinead O’Connor have released six studio albums to date: In April they release more of their darkly esoteric neofolk with their seventh “Aes Sidhe” [literally, “people of the mound” ] via Triple Goddess.
The album explores notions of death and rebirth as symbolized by the prehistoric “death mounds” found all over the British isles. They resemble pregnant belly’s of the earth-mother… perhaps the goddessresponsible for the rebirth of the dead into the other-world.
Earth mounds are associated with spirits and the trooping fairies of Irish folklore.
So the album opens with “Fall From Tir na n’Og” [perhaps exploring the expulsion from the land of youth] with a doleful, yearning violin and worrying grumbles that lie beneath an elusive violet-syrup voice like hidden memories of slumbering savagery.
The howling of the yellhounds foretold death to anyone who heard them, so “Cwn Annwn” has the underlying menace and irrefutable gnash! of dark rushing creatures as they dart from lairs at Cadair Idris. Unsurprisingly, this song reminds us of the inherent danger found in the baroque-works on The Whole Story by Kate Bush.
The “Grey Havens” is a lament inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien’s re-imagining of Nordic and Celtic mythologies with silvery guitars and a trace of Sindarin at the end. It suggests a misty trip to the fabled Saint Brendan’s Isle.
In Irish mythology, Mag Mell means the “plain of joy” and described a realm achievable only through death and glory. Thus the track “Mag Mell” is like coming to the end of a translucent sojourn where menace lurked at every step and regret was often revealed along the bitter path. Here the voice is filled with citrus peel sadness and packeted like a funerary envelope.
Thick with black bristles and otherworldly beauty these elegiac petitions offer lullaby-lush sorrow within their supremely serene song-structures.
Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Below is Mabon written and performed by Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks in 2015.
Aes Sidhe will be released April 3rd 2017