FAME Review: Annette Cantor - Songs to the Goddess
Annette Cantor - Songs to the Goddess

Songs to the Goddess

Annette Cantor

Available from Annette Cantor's web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Those of us who came up in the 60s and 70s and were of a more refined bent of musical aesthetic, as much favoring Between and Oregon as King Crimson and Led Zeppelin, were aware of a clutch of European composers who weren't of earthly ilk, cats who had their heads simultaneously in the Pleiades and the Himalayas, and Deuter, Hari Deuter, or, as he now is known, C.G. Deuter was one of them. A perplexing character, he nonetheless, like David Hykes, Kitaro, and a number of others, managed to capture ears and turn heads. No one could quite figure out just what he was doing even though the work was familiar and attractive, and that was precisely the point of entry. I grabbed seven of his old releases from Kuckuck and other labels in the 70s and 80s but fell away from that realm due to one thing or another but mostly just life itself, and so it was with a good deal of anticipation that I noted Annette Cantor had recruited him to accompany her on Songs to the Goddess.

All the co-written compositions on Goddess are devotionals for various incarnations of the female principal in world cultures—in other words: religiously based but here in ancient manifestations—but that's neither here nor there because good musical materials transcend their origins and speak universally; thus, you needn't be a chela at a mountain monastery nor an urban mendicant at Zen Center L.A. but only a listener who appreciates beauty and mystery in order to fall quite nicely into Songs. Deuter handles all the instruments with his well-noted aplomb, Cantor providing gently hypnotic encantations of melisma and chant lyrics above, bringing the sky down to the earth in elemental exchanges and complementary regards. Like many of us who grew up more than casually in a Christian faith, Annette, when young, was pulled into the gorgeous Gregorian chant tradition and, from there, studied Latin in order to translate the words, thence on to Hildegard von Bingen's works.

None of that is necessary to enjoyment of the seamlessly woven tracks here, though, and, in fact, the enterprise possesses much in common with Eastern philosophies and Western and mid-Eastern mystics like Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, and Eickhart, Isis an especially arcane track. Often, myself an atheist and unorthodox Zen Buddhist, I'm inclined to argue with spiritually oriented ventures, but this one is, to be frank, what I'd once hoped Caroline would've been doing with L. Shankar all those years ago, and thus I'm hardly moved to any sort of objection. In fact, Isis is somewhat like a really refined and liquified old Brainticket long 8-movement song, had, that is, Joel Vandroogenbroeck & Co. taken an even deeper breath and faded into the starfields while looped on soma. Each cut's given plenty of time to stretch out, only one being under six minutes, and Deuter's unhurried music often unfolds to reach to the four corners and ten winds of the world, creating an underlayer upon which Cantor embroiders her syllablistic tapestries in a clear, dulcet, well modulated, highly trained voice soporifically enfolding every ear and mind to peace and wonder, grounding the body while elevating inner being.

Speaking of Gregorian chant, perhaps my all-time favorite such recording is the St. John's College Choir's take on Allegri's Miserere, Mei Deus, a work of surpassingly haunting unearthly beauty. Cantor's CD is not of this manufacture and architecture but is quite firmly in spirit with it and more purely blissful than Allegri's incredible but darkly tinted opus. The noted 17th century composer, who oft stripped down even Palestrina's gorgeously simplistically-inclined style, leaves you with troublingly contrastive meditations upon human existence but Cantor does not. Listening to her and Deuter's flowingly spacey work invokes nothing but wonder and appreciation, somewhat like contemplating a particularly benevolent yantra.

Track List:

  • Tara
  • Spider Woman
  • Yemana
  • Isis
  • Gaia
  • Kuan Yin
  • Demeter
  • Venus
All songs written by Cantor / Deuter.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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