The long-arc vision of Faith Coloccia / Mamiffer has deftly traversed a sonic terrain with an emotional depth and compositional restraint rarely found in contemporary music. Across multiple albums, EPs, and splits, she and her collaborators have tapped into the passionate elements of life—the sublime joys and the harrowing losses - while also providing a score to the less definable moments; the pensive times of solace, the dissonant chapters of uncertainty, and the meditative sojourns. Mamiffer’s latest album, The Brilliant Tabernacle, transmutes darkness and rejoices in the force of life by illuminating the beauty of creation. Beginning with a foundation of piano, organ, and voice, Coloccia enlisted her partner and long-time collaborator Aaron Turner along with a congregation of auxiliary musicians to help her construct “a guiding light” in the form of seven songs.
With The Brilliant Tabernacle, Coloccia has focused her work on encompassing the totality of the human experience. Herein she acknowledges both the joyful abundance and inherent suffering of life, while fostering a deep reverence for “pristine awareness” as accessed by the natural mind. This fecund drive was further bolstered by the birth of her first child after her last album The World Unseen. The attendant experiences with maternity—hope, love, strength, support, surrender, and more than anything, the cognition of the self at its most powerful: the embodiment of vulnerability—prompted the construction of The Brilliant Tabernacle.
The album opens with “All That is Beautiful,” a poetic salve buttressed by Coloccia’s piano, Jon Mueller’s communal drum patterns, Veronica Dye’s constellating flute, and Turner’s dichotomous combination of bucolic acoustic guitar and distorted squall. Amidst this backdrop of lilting major and minor key melodies, Coloccia weaves a private psalm of global stewardship and personal strength—a prime example of her music serving as a talisman in a labyrinthine world. From there the album segues into the aural blessings of “River of Light,” a psychedelic calling of drones, pulses, and melodic fragments, with supplementary vocals by Monika Khot. “So That the Heart May Be Known” is a blissed-out harmonic incantation, an amalgam of old world folk elements and modern minimalist composition colored by Eyvind Kang’s string arrangements. Coloccia’s lyrics once again serve the overall vision of reveling in the beauty of creation by repeating the cyclical mantra “How does it feel? / What do you know? / All love!” Coloccia asserts that her aim with Mamiffer is to create psychedelia without drugs and spirituality without the dogma of religion, and that principle is deftly achieved on “Two Hands Together” where graceful piano foundations channel lyrical parallel’s between the process of birth and the metaphoric rebirth of baptism, invoking a secular sense of wonder and magic towards both human biology and consciousness.
“Hymn of Eros” is the centerpiece of side 2, a kaleidoscopic inversion of side 1’s homespun musical traditions interwoven with the electro-acoustic emissions of synthesist Alex Barnett and waves of textured bass from Brian Cook. It’s the track that most closely recalls the ominous lurch and protracted abstractions of Mamiffer albums like Hirror Enniffer and Mare Decendrii, although the lyrical intent is perhaps the most pointed of any song on The Brilliant Tabernacle. “So many problems in the world stem from people who do not love themselves, and have lost a fundamental gift that should be everyone’s birth right: to be loved unconditionally and completely. Much of our conditioning has strived to detach humans from one another, to see difference as threatening instead of as a strength, to separate the bond with the mother and the earth, and this is passed down through the generations,” Coloccia says. “I felt this record was a complete psychic and magical observation of the healing power of true love, of respecting vulnerability, of not wanting to forget where we all come from- how we were all once helpless and all deserving of love.” The album closes with “To Be Seen,” a transcendental plainsong that brings the uninitiated into the fold while conjuring the inviting warmth and hallucinatory spirituality of Letzte Tage Letzte Nächte-era Popol Vuh or the hypnotic repetition of Asa Osborne projects like Zomes and Lungfish.
“The album as a whole represents a mythical narrative: the hero's descent into the darkness of the soul and the generational sickness of our current culture and its history, followed by the triumphant reunification with the primal deep of total love. This process generates the power to break the spell of linear time, thought and action, and produces instead a sense of cyclic and physio-psychic existence. It provides the opportunity to overcome indoctrinated amnesia, to uplift collective strength and allows for the restoration of in-born self-love” Coloccia says of The Brilliant Tabernacle. And indeed, the album is a journey through the dark and into luminous revelation, across a myriad of textures and timbres, at turns tranquil, turbulent, and surreal.
“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.”- James Baldwin
released November 1, 2019
Written by Faith Coloccia and Mamiffer
Produced by Randall Dunn and Mamiffer
Recorded by Randall Dunn at Studio Litho, Seattle, WA. (2013) and AVAST! Studio, Seattle, WA. (2014, 2015, 2018).
Additional recording by Mamiffer at The House of Low Culture, Vashon, WA. (2013-2018). Jon Mueller's percussion and Faith Coloccia's piano on "All That is Beautiful" recorded by Matt Bayles at Robert Lange Studios, Lakeshore, WA. (2017). Piano, synthesizer and electronics on "Hymn of Eros" recorded by Nicholas Wilbur at The Unknown Studio, Anacortes, WA. (2016)
Mixed by Randall Dunn at AVAST! Studios Seattle WA 2018
Strings arranged and performed by Eyvind Kang
Faith Coloccia: vocals, piano, organ, cassette field recordings, auxiliary percussion
Aaron Turner: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, additional vocals
Jon Mueller: percussion
Brian Cook: bass
Eyvind Kang: viola, violin
Veronica Dye: flute
Alex Barnett: electronics and synthesizer on " Hymn of Eros"
Monika Khot: additional vocals on "River of Light"
Janne Westerlund: Kantele on "To Be Seen"
Art and design by Faith Coloccia
Mastered at CMS by Jason Ward
supported by 46 fans who also own “The Brilliant Tabernacle”
I love the light and shade between Bryan's dirty and Emma's forlorn vocals. There are so many layers to this recording that are driven home through contrast. Plus the riffs are brilliant and get me moving. I can't stop listening to Thou and Emma in general lately. spaceman2250