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Blush Music
Artist: Woven Hand
Label: Glisterhouse 
Length: 10 Tracks/67:10

Wim Vandekeybus is photographer, actor, choreographer and director of the Belgian theatre project Ultima Vez. His troupe belongs to the avant-garde and therefore it is always in search of new approaches. For some past productions, Ultima Vez collaborated with jazz guitarist Marc Ribot and with ex-Talking Head David Byrne. Since last year, Woven Hand has worked with the Wim Vandekeybus' dancers. The ballet production "Blush" is about the Greek Orpheus myth, in which the protagonist Orpheus descends into the realm of the dead to bring his beloved Euridyce back to the world of the living, a subject matter custom made to measure David Edwards' musical soul. 

On track 2, "Animalitos (Ain't no sunshine anymore)", 16 Horsepower's singer represents Orpheus' longing for his lady-love with an elongated version of the Bill Withers classic. A droning clicking and chirping draws the listener into the song. In this disconsolate musical landscape there is a lot of room for heaving ballet bodies. Hazily accompanied by his own banjo and Daniel McMahon's piano, Edwards's voice too, after about five minutes, sounds distant, enraptured and abandoned: "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone - and this house just ain't my home - any time she goes away." 

Woven Hand makes theatre music and plunges in neck and crop. As guests, fellow crusaders David McMahon and drummer Ordy Garrison (ex-Slim Cessna's Auto Club) only contribute something once in a while. Edwards produced the dance soundtrack himself and made producer Robert Ferbrache an advisor. 

With a palpable tension Woven Hand depicts the tragic moment when Eurydice is bitten by a snake. For this deadly incident track #4 "Snake Bite" takes its time, more than seven minutes. The extensive music, with its quavering and its deceitful to and fro, is so present, that the listener almost sees Eurydice's death throes with his own eyes. 

After arriving in the nether world, Orpheus hears a whispered sea of words which offers little hope but much despair in track 7 "Aeolian Harp (Under the World)". Aeolian Harp's music conveys vague memories of a cowboy's solitude and its low, transcendental sounds resemble East-Asian folklore. Like the voices of the dead, Edwards' singing flutters about on several levels, like a broken-winged bird. 

Only the last track "Reunion (Story And Pictures)" is filled with a vague hope, carried by a soft piano: "your fire burns for me - red as grace - the blush came easily to your face - your fire burns for me - red as grace." The Orpheus myth as the leading thread for this ballet soundtrack makes "Blush Music" a dense album. With Woven Hand Orpheus becomes a cowboy, who beguiles the nether world with his banjo, stumbles and gets up again and without losing hope.

Chris Flier 2/25/2003


Chris Flier is publisher of the German web-zine



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