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A Silver Mt. Zion (live)

The Union Chapel, London
21st January 2001

A Silver Mt. ZionBack at the Union Chapel for another of its most appropriate events, A Silver Mt. Zion playing their coolly Classical and most definitely Goth set from the album “He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms”. Union Chapel being as it is the most gothic of venues sans the cobwebs and Halloween decoration set designs gave a perfect ambiance to the darkly macabre but without the make-up sounds of Silver Mt. Zion. This is Shelley-style gothick, romantic Frankenstein beauty hidden in monster sort, asexual and tragic to the last.

A big stand-up contrabass, two violins, one cello, a daunting piano and distorted guitar make the sounds that woo. In long dramatic pieces with arrangements recalling antique Baroque, the ensemble move consciously through gorgeous songs piqued with heart-pulling nuances. Their sombre faces, this sombre music, this cold and spired and stained glass repeating arches room, one could easily feel transported in a time machine to days of old or another world from this one. At least until Efrim speaks. His whiney stoner voice wants us the audience to join him in lamenting all forgotten plans and broken promises. He stumbles akwardly through a stinted speach of misery and I am not sure whether he is just so self-conscious, or struggling incredibly to come off as sincere. Whatever the case, I feel that this music is all tragic enough, beautifully painful, and we could have all done without the episodic interlude on how shit the world is. When Efrim sings, or when he bangs on the piano, it is so much more full of the sentiments he tries to talk about, and so much more effective.

A Silver Mt ZionHis singing voice is as clear and expressive as the strings all around him, and his piano evokes from me a sadness that pierces. And to his credit, he gives up the speech making promptly enough and gets on back to the music. The show lasts about an hour with only minute little breaks for the players to stretch their well-exercised arms. It is just about long enough for the chill of the night to really invade and sort of solidify the powerfully sad ambiance of the performance. I leave Union Chapel tired and mournful of all my broken promises and lost ideas. These young people have come together and made up a sound which inspires the faint of heart to follow. For days to come those dark songs lurk in my weary head with no solution. O! Exultant Misery! …and all that.

-Lilly Novak-

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