1. Hand/EyeCrow Tongue : The Red Hand Mark (US,2008)****'
After Timothy’s latest abyssic astral meditation, "Hoofbeat, Caw, and Thunder", the gathered crows from that recording seemed to follow him after.
It made him look for a next chapter that would surpass Stonebreath’s and other related projects and lead to a different sound.
Therefore he had built a homemade musical instrument which he called the guimbri-banjo, a bass-like banjo, which is a more stage-friendly version of the Moroccan guimbri bass lute, played clawhammer style.
Just like in the Bible, in the Noah story, but also in Wodan/Odin Pagan contexts, pigeons are like the messengers that appear when new life and spring starts to appear, while crows are messengers of death and decay, they warn with a message eventually from the underworld, of what has passed before. They appear where the land or conditions are no longer fertile for that moment. (Just notice that both birds are good survivers where other spieces during circumstances tend to die out).
The messengers of Crow Tongue are more apocalyptic than ever before with other Stone Breath projects, but they themselves are not the doom thinkers themselves but the prophets. Any such apocalyptic vision also inclines that even after certain disaster other values will return. The shamanistic way the songs are expressed have a droning hypnotic effect, especially by this special instrument, which sounds at first just slightly North/African/Middle Eastern, but mostly very much more African. It is a western form of African music, which, like Appalachian music with former European folk forms, is transformed into a new ritualistic, minstrel sound, that starts rather neofolk with ethnic flavours, but builds up to a rhythmical semi-African groove of shamanistic minstrel singing.
A bit of percussive strength is added by Ae Hoskin, while Timothy plays guimbri-banjo with banjo, tamboura-lyre, hand-drums and drones.
This change impressed me. It is said that this release especially sounds like the duo performs live on stage.
2. Hand/EyeCrow Tongue : Prophecies and Secrets (the red hand mark in dub) (US,2008)**°°
This album could easily be considered as bonus-release to ‘The Red Hand Mark’. The group took the basic achievements and sounds on the previous one and changed it for the first 5/6 tracks with echo and wah-wah effects, reverse and echo textures, to transform it into a different, more dynamic semi-acoustic spacey sound, with details that have different effects with a certain resonating depth, with sounds that can sound almost electronic, but that are always based upon these acoustic sounds.
On 2/3 of the album they approached the music with a different and more original idea of dub. Perhaps that only “Evergreenman” has certain dub effects on the vocals too.
On “Calling to the ancient earth” I also noticed some additional ethereal background vocals and some sort of sampled sound.
While this new experimental sound is based upon colourful rhythms mostly. A few tracks sound like remixes, other are outtakes from the previous album. The last few tracks sound much more like looped tracks, which is a less surprising and no longer so inventive with sounds, and as a contrast are a bit more sleep-provoking. “Dreamer Prophets” for instance sounds most clearly like an instrumental part played not very differently or otherwise taken from some track on the previous album, then used as a sample for a loop based instrumental.
Still, a rewarding addition to the previous album with similar cover (this could have released them together, as a double CD).
3. Hand/EyeCrow Tongue : Ghost / Eye / Seeker (US,2008)****
This release sounds clearly like the break point in search of a new sound, with successful results. Timothy worked with multiple layers of very varied, but comparable in essence, say “droning” sounds, with a diversity of instruments that produce such sounds : something like droning harmonium, a sitar-like instrument for lead improvisations, slide guitars, fuzzed and distorted guitars, feedback guitar sounds, which together create a beautiful rich sound for the rather psychedelic improvisations, of large instrument parts and only a little bit of singing. But also the singing received a different purpose, suiting this sort of mystic “voice” in its inspirational music. Only the last track used the semi-African instrument to lead the track, an introduction for the project of further explorations on the second album.