By far the lion's share of 12 Visions is the work of the enigmatically cognomened Will Z., him and him alone…with a few inclusions of sessioneers here and there. For that factor itself, the CD is quite impressive, a folk-prog semi-symphonic work wrought in a highly literate vein. Its wordsmithed antecedents are J-K Huysmans' La Bas, Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, and The Twelve Philosophical Keys by Basil Valentine (allegedly an alchemist monk). The interplay of Satanic, Christian, and Hermetic influences within their own historical antagonisms is strongly felt throughout the disc, as are, in strictly musical elements, The Strawbs, Black Widow, Third Ear Band, Davendra Banheart, madrigal, and folk airs.
As someone interested in the myriad grand-daddies of all sci-fi/fantasy novels and their adjunct paraphernalia—I'm speaking of the Torah, Tanakh, Kaballah, Bible, Magisterium, Qu'ran, Mahabharata, etc.—tomes which yielded Milton's and others' subversive works (Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven; how much more rebellious can ya get that that?), and, hell, even The Book of Urantia and the Scientology oeuvre, as well as highly sympathetic to LaVey and other spritual anarchists, I've always enthused over anyone willing to take up the brazier, set the oppositional contrast, and create a much needed dialectic to the Abrahamic and other mento-spiritual imperialisms. That's what's occurring here, and that factor explains why Will Z., who's of similar spirit and far more invested in the dimension than I, chose to eschew the Black Sabbath approach and create a highly absorbing and earthily cosmic panoply of songs as creative within historic palpability as anything yet produced in the music world, a disc with few peers.
How many, after all, would even dare to tackle the subjects? Very damn few. The portent of social stigmata alone would spook the hell out of most. And then to pull it off with so rich a weaving of timelost sonic tapestries revivified by modern technology within a sweeping environment pregnant with pastorales, mystery, and subtlety? Rich fare, one and all, rich fare indeed. Besides the verdant meadows, cliffscapes, and sullen skies, there's a monasterial feel, cloistered, intellectual, earthy, and monkish—of a blackrobed sect, true, inviting and forbidding simultaneously, but a congeries fascinated that things are not as they seem and that what's unseen may be more real than the eyes can claim to hold as valid.
In its 65+ minutes, 12 Visions yields the entire 12-cut masterwork and then eight more tracks beyond that, all well recorded and revelatory of the process as it evolved, sometimes fitting smoothly as addenda to the opuswerk, sometimes a bit curious…well, at moments a LOT curious, as Free Frog, a cool-ass psych-pop song a la The Bevis Frond and others, features Will cracking up halfway through the rendition. Remember when Peter Sellers went through all those re-takes in the postscript to Being There as the credits rolled? Those were epochal, aschismed but golden as contrasts, and this outtake slots in the same fashion. Then Night of Sin is particularly Dave Cousins-ish (Strawbs), like a cut from the band's Hero & Heroine era, perhaps even Grave New World, while Raga catches the From the Witchwood period. And I think the fact that you have to listen to the entire release as a flow of events and philosophies rather than as diversion and soma indicates what the future holds for us via this extremely interesting artist.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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