1. Thrice Thy Heart Shall Broken Be – dark chanting, ringing overtones, and ominous vocal washes combine in a sinister yet sparkling atmosphere.
2. Not Even All The Stars – a plaintive meditation featuring gossamer vocals.
3. Thrice Thy Heart … (Sleepwalking Mix) – an alternate treatment of the lead track that evolves into a hypnotic and dreamlike journey.
Jeff Sampson and Sara Ayers -- voices
Two of the top ambient vocalists recording today have combined their considerable talents on Thrice Thy Heart Shall Broken Be, a three-song EP featuring Sara Ayers, who almost always records as a solo act and Jeff Sampson, who has albums out as both a solo and with duos/groups such as Embracing the Glass and SanRenSei. I’ve been fortunate enough to review multiple previous releases by both artists and consider myself a fan of them both so I wasn’t surprised by how wonderful this collaborative effort is, and in fact, I would have been startled if it wasn’t this good.
Remarkably, each of the three tracks takes on a decidedly different musical personality, however the recording is also a cohesive artistic statement, suffused throughout with a mystical beauty and haunting presence which is seldom dark, but instead more shadowy and indistinct, as if one were walking through a mist which obscured the finer details of a landscape, revealing only vague shapes and muted colors. Another emotion that has frequently been present in both Sampson’s and Ayers’ work is an undeniable sense of loss, occasionally bordering on pain or profound sorrow but also sometimes hovering closer to melancholy. On this particular recording, these deep emotions are cloaked in music that is, at times, truly gorgeous. You want to bathe in the wordless vocalizings of these two people, whether it’s the eerie combination of flowing drones and soprano caresses of the title track, the almost spiritual church-choir effect of multi-tracked singing on “Not Even All The Stars” (don’t be surprised if the beauty of this song doesn’t send chills down your spine or even bring tears to your eyes, especially when a swelling of massed voices is introduced later in the song) or the more abstract and minimal remix of the title track (in the liner notes called the “Sleepwalking Mix”). Wave after wave of overtone-like drone and sparse higher pitched vocals unwind patiently, the effect being almost siren-like in its impact. You want to follow these sounds to their source!
Wrapping your head around the fact that all the music on this release was created via Ayers’ and Sampson’s vocal chords is daunting, although since I’m familiar with them, I was less amazed than newbies might be. It bears repeating that the highest recommendation I can give of an EP (and which I solidly pronounce now) is that I wished it was a full-length release, not an EP. As I stated earlier, I’m not surprised at all with what Sara Ayers and Jeff Sampson have yielded on Thrice Thy Heart Shall Broken Be. That doesn’t alter the fact that I sat mesmerized while listening to this and, in fact, played it four or five times immediately after the first go round. If you count yourself a fan of wordless ambient vocal music, or for that matter, if you enjoy ambient drone music period, you should order this EP right now, ‘cause it’s a special piece of work. You can thank me later! Highly recommended!
New Age Reporter