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Nigel Hawthorne Reviews Jimmy Redfyre and Ruzahn
Christmas When Music Almost Killed the World by Aberjhani

 

Devoshona shook the thought of Shereen from her head and went to an unofficial web site for Ruzahn. It was one of many that had published a comparative review of the new releases from Jimmy Redfyre and Ruzahn, written by Nicholas Hawthorn. She went to the review and looked first at the full color photo of Jimmy Redfyre, then at the animated silhouette of Ruzahn. She turned on the audio and an English-accented voice began reciting the article:

"Let's begin by showing respect for the obvious: for the next two years music around the world will be measured, judged, and defined by the powerhouse standards established in two new releases by Jimmy Redfyre and Ruzahn, specifically Feast of Dead Souls Divine by Redfyre and Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black by Ruzahn. Make no mistake about it, the issues at stake here go beyond the fact that Redfyre's CD debuted at number one on music charts across the board--the exception being in India where Ruzahn regally rules--and they extend past the question of who will be at number one come Christmas. From this point on, as goes music, so goes the fate of life as we know it. Those who feel that statement is just a little too much on the cheeky side need only look at how our world shifted on its axis when the Beetles exited Liverpool for the U.S. and Chubby Checker put the twist in everybody's hips in the last century. Alright then, on with it.

"The single most significant feature of these two CDs is the fact of how simultaneously different and similar they are. It's a huge boost for those still marketing music CDs that these two monumental artists chose to make these releases available solely in this format in a market where canned sound is no longer the dominant choice of consumers. Both have twelve songs. In the case of Jimmy Redfyre, there are also a limited number of DVDs available for sale separately and feature extended videos of most of the songs on Feast of Dead Souls Divine as well as--suggest those who don't know this already hold onto their crotches--an actual quadruple-X rated movie of Redfyre on a quest to save humanity from a ring of highly sophisticated spies, devil worshippers, and terrorists attempting to throw the world into a free-for-all state of anarchy. On the way to defeating this international organization comprised of some of the most beautiful faces and bodies anyone could want to drool over, he manages to screw at least two thirds of them silly before slicing them in half with laser blasts from his maxophone or bashing their brains in with it. Were it not for the gore and ghouls that absolutely putrefy the movie, with a bit of editing it could pass as an erotic masterpiece.  As it is, it's more of a masterful piece of shameless public masturbation and hardly worth the millions of dollars spent to produce it or the $1,000 for which die-hard Redfyre fans are buying it. Yes, you read that figure correctly, half a million units of that DVD sold already at $1,000 a pop and I guarantee you an extended version will be out by Christmas selling for $2,000 a copy. We'll leave the movie critics to decide what to make of that and get back to the music at hand.

"Ruzahn's gifts as a poet of mystical consciousness, guitarist of multi-dimensional harmonies, and singer of ecstatic passion and restraint has never been more apparent in his recorded work than it is in Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black. Here we have the man at work in song after song, soaring through double interludes of cyclonic intensity, densely layered self-performed background vocals underscoring his utterly brilliant lead, and swift waves of sweeping turn-arounds that lift you angelically out of your body and carries you to some healing mythical place on the other side of the sun before coming back to a more mundane recognized reality. In something of an impressive contrast, Jimmy Redfyre on Feast of Dead Souls Divine pulls off the fantastic feat of making listeners grateful for the manner in which he seduces and pillages one's mind, body, and soul with crashing chords and mesmerizing meters that pound one into a happy abandonment of personal power or responsibility for one's being. He hooks listeners' hearts and hips with a repeating boomerang of computerized modulations that immerse them in the sonic depths of a brain zooming wide awake and joyfully terrified through a black hole."

"Placing their appropriate stylistic differences to the side, the major revelation in Redfyre and Ruzahn's new work is the intertwining narrative woven throughout the songs of each. Imagine Redfyre and Ruzahn each at the same time giving us a concept album based on the story of some mystery individual's life. The truth is we need not imagine it at all because one of the hottest topics in music fans and industry chat rooms right now is the fact that they appear to have done exactly that.

"Song for song, we have on these two new releases the musical narrative of an abused young man who goes out into the world to experience adventures in true love, questionable friendships, natural disasters, cosmic warfare, and some sort of profound resolution after all is said and done. What amazes us here is that the musical subject matter is not merely similar but the perceived narrative develops and progresses in the same manner. From "Philadelphia Shade" to "Tears of a Black Skylark Screaming" on Redfyre's CD, and "Shadows of Philadelphia" to "Soul of a Black Skylark Singing" on Ruzahn's, we are forced to wonder what the hell is going on here. Neither of these artists need to steal ideas from the other. Neither is prone to dealing in trends. Therefore, what? Some say the songs are a tribute to the late Valerie Hyerman, the artist who died under mysterious circumstances in Froggtown, Georgia, and whose art is included on the cover of Redfyre's CD. While possible, that doesn't seem likely given that she died but a few months prior to the music's debut and insiders on the Ruzahn project assure me any allusions to Ms. Hyerman are coincidental only. Others say they represent Jimmy Redfyre's life story and Ruzahn's commentary on that story. Hmmm, not sure what to think about that.

             

"Here's what this reviewer can say with certainty:  with Feast of Dead Souls Divine and Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black, we have two masterpieces that reconstruct and then raise the bar on what constitutes a masterpiece. Redfyre at his nightmarish beguiling best on his maxophone makes us feel the orgasmic vulnerability of an LSD trip without ingesting the drug itself. His voice oscillates between a rasp and a roar and coo that has the weird effect of making us think we are not just listening to Redfyre but living life as Redfyre. And then there is Master Ruzahn.

"Although embarrassing to put it this way, one has to be true to one's aesthetic sensibilities and profess that from beginning to end, Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black takes root right in the base of one's spine then spreads like a cybernetic mutation through one's bum and balls and schlong and thighs and feet, taking over one's belly button and turning one's nips into steel, consuming the tongue with the full-bodied flavor of forbidden fruit, then transforming the brain into a portal through which ancient gods and new-born angels sail in and out of our souls. His voice skims through multiple octaves and re-interpretations of world music traditions like an entire school of dolphins delightedly sailing the crest of a tsunami, courting the danger and transforming it into numinous joy. If Jimmy Redfyre is an apt interpretation of the law of sonic vibration as it applies to a command of gravity and raw uncompromising power, Ruzahn would have to be an interpretation of that same law as it applies to ascension towards the higher realms of light and angelic concordance.

"Have I perhaps overstated my case? I assure you I have not."   


From Christmas When Music Almost Killed the World

by Aberjhani