The Odyssey is a grandiose tale by the Greek writer Homer but it is also an album devised by far more modern Greeks, whom are no lest dedicated to the art of story telling in the form of Dark Awake, while Regard Extreme is the French connection in this collaboration.
So we are onwards “Towards A Long Journey” and it is slow and steady with each classical instrument getting it’s fair turn. This flows like deep water and oozes ancient charm of the mediterranean as our hero Odysseus leaves the Trojan Wars to head home to his kingdom.
“Polyphemus (A Trick Against The Cyclops)” has a gorgeous string ensemble which breaks in and out with horned instruments. You even get to hear the cyclops as the music goes from light and laid back to more intimidating, building. His enraged yells as he has been blinded in his one eye, calling on his father, Poseidon.
And so we enter the “The Land Of Laistrygones”, the seriousness is expressed which the deep menacing tones of this dirge as Odysseus and his fleet land on an island, only to find man-eating giants who hurl boulders at the unsuspecting fleet, sinking all ships bar one.
Odysseus must make the trip to see the dead and blind Theban, “Teiresias (Prophet In The Underworld)”, seeking advice. The music reflects the other worldliness and the unnatural, as the living invade the realm of the dead. This is far more electronic but suits well.
Whilst on the way back Odysseus and his men, land on an island belonging to “Circe (Metamorphosis)” who is a goddess of magic and a nymph as well as a daughter of Helios the Sun God. She turns all the crew into swine and Odysseus promises to live there for a years if she reverts the spell, which she does. The strings are hesitant and the heaviness is palpable and a single female soprano can be heard. Circe has gotten what she desired.
The most famous part of The Odyssey is of course “The Sirens (Fascinating Song)”. Their song lures the unwary sailor onto the rocks so that all hands may drown, consumed by the sea. A lilting female vocal rises and falls like the sea swells, enchanting and mesmerizing with such clarity backed by a piano played discordantly, a foreshadowing that not is all as it seems.
A single violin and chatter herald in what sounds like giant horns announcing battle. Travelling within a confine with enemies on both sides, waiting for something to happen. “Scylla and Charybdis” literally means to have to choose between two evils. A strait of water they must travel has Scylla on one side and Charybdis on the other. Two monstrous females that consume all that come past them. Scylla with her giant toothy jaws in 6 heads or Charybdis whom acts like a whirlpool sucking all within.
Soon our adventurers make their way to “The Island Of The Sun God (Helios)” where everything is fairly nice, the beautiful Helios has a chariot to draw the sun across the sky and he has a herd of immortal cows. The music is light with female singers giving pleasant intonations. This seems a sweet reprieve from the ominous pieces previously. One dead, blind Theban seer had warned them not to eat the cattle of Helios but no, the daft crew just had to eat them, enraging Helios into asking Zeus to take vengeance.
The sounds of water dripping within a cave. “Ogygia (Calypso’s Island)” is Odysseus’ next landing alone. Here he is met by the nymph, Calypso who has fallen in love with Odysseus and wishes to marry him. He refuses and holds him there for 7 years until Zeus intervenes, then she gives him a boat supplied with food and wine. The music wends its way, wary and building and reprising like an argument but constantly writhing seeking resolve. Then it becomes stark and grey with the voice of a goddess. Is this Calypso asking to be loved? Synths make this slightly deranged feeling that lingers.
Telemachus was Odysseus’ son and his education had been left to the wise old Mentor. “Mentor (A Message From A Goddess)” is about Athena taking the guise of Mentor to instruct Telemachus to go find his father before his mother remarried. It is etherial, light and unearthly as the visitation of Athena should be. Whispers and vocal exclamations heighten this sensation of light.
“Ithaca (Return Of The King)” is fair self-explanatory. An unrecognizable Odysseus participates in a show of strength and then kills all the suitors. After convincing his wife it really is the King, all is set to right. Dark and brooding with almost industrial banging, maybe the impending death knell. Though it doesn’t sound like the happiest of returns but then slaughtering all your enemies is like that.
This is indeed a music interpretation of the Odyssey. Musical visualizations of important pieces of this two and a half thousand-year old poem. It is evocative and poignant. If you love neo-classical music or have a great love of the Homeric poem, then I highly suggest you check this out. They say beware of Greeks bearing gifts but in this case it’s a good one!