[sic] Magazine

White Gourd – Magician Le Diable

Mere weeks after Million Brazilians’ latest LP, core member Suzanne Stone now makes a ritualistic return under her White Gourd guise and, those who pined for her shamanic spoken-word in the interim may now feast on Magician Le Diable’s two, twenty-minute and side-long sizzlers, any number of individual tracks let loose as infernal shape-shifters in their midsts. Even in Stone’s long-running world of performance art and conceptual tarot (the album’s title is, of course, two of its cards), it’s an out-there listen.

This shouldn’t be a surprise for anything released on Grant Corum’s Psychic Sounds label (he, equally of Million Brazilians) and anyone that peeled back the skin of Corum and Stone’s recent Red Rose & Obsidian album already has one foot in the door here. Stone wears the same robes as the old-world enchantress she conjured on that record, her deep tones again inviting comparison with Anika and her turn last year alongside Exploded View. But the potion offered by Magician Le Diable is headier still, side A – “Magician” – shimmering first in gong splashes and deep meditation, choral chanting adding the bite of an initiation rite to some sacred society. Handed the means to access a higher plane of consciousness, disorientating free-jazz brass then competes to crow loudest under a sky with two suns, the hot claustrophobia of drones trickling down your back and zoning out in favour of synthesised chimes and a rickety vocal solo. Landing face up, the card delivers in its death throes a tense, yelping back-and-forth as the bridge between heaven and earth comes crumbling down, sliced apart by serrated instrumentation and a mid-distance volley of foreboding hand drums.

Enter “Le Diable”, which continues Stone’s fascination with the Beelzebub by opening a portal direct to the Netherworld, her parallel-dimension hymnal unsettling yet communicative. Hypnotic, snake-charming sax tightens the screw, a slithering veil of Eastern mystique drawn over the ensuing extra-psychedelic jam. Loose and wild fishtailing leads to a warped crossing of the Styx, tortured souls screaming over Stone’s blackened vessel as a meandering bass-line pays the boatman on the opposite shore. Solemn organ chords finally announce the arrival in Lucifer’s great hall, a Gothic dirge interrupted by chaotic demons and overblown organ noise – an invitation … a demand to stay in the subterranean chasms forever. Don’t fall asleep to this one; you might never wake up.

~Magician Le Diable is out now via Psychic Sounds.~

WHITE GOURD 'Magician le Diable' from Psychic Sounds on Vimeo.