The spirits are confused and dancing on Daphne X’s transfixing The Plumb Sutra. Recorded in an isolated house in the Galicia region of Spain, The Plumb Sutra is folk music from an alternate universe. Cryptic patterns keep finding their way to the surface throughout the album, the rhythmic cadences imbued with a layer of ghost dust that find surprising ways to entrance listeners. In Galician folklore, the Miño River was home to witches, animals, and amphibian-humans that lived together peacefully, and on The Plumb Sutra, Daphne X brings that spirit to life
Imbued in the propulsive romp of “Halo Dragon” and the eerie creep of “Eliseo’s Teeth Chatter,” the idyllic landscapes of Galicia are mesmerizing and haunted. “Halo Dragon” runs aground in the ritualistic clamor, Daphne X’s fluttering, multilayered vocals fighting the droning headwind like poison arrows fired from the moon. Midnight dances cast shadows lit by massive bonfires, clicking and clopping through the frigid night. Aural spellcasting goes in divergent directions beckoning listeners to follow the glowing orb.
Where “Halo Dragon” progresses and moves in circular rhythms, “Eliseo’s Teeth Chatter” winds through eerie, decrepit corridors. Piano patterns loop through the asylum hallways mimicking the creepy ambiance and sprinkling it with a dash of whimsy. It’s unsettling to a degree, but I kept getting drawn back to its fanciful weirdness. Maybe this is the path back in time to the encampments along the Miño River.
Daphne X keeps surprising me throughout The Plumb Sutra which, in turn, keeps me coming back for more. A playfulness emerges, though colored in dark-hued timbres, on the bouncing scriptures of “Irimia’s Bones Crackle” and the childlike wonder of “Day in the Slug’s Crossing.” Her polyphonic vocal lines compete with each other to conjure the most potent sonic spells and once they’ve entered the bloodstream on the haunting closer “Kontakion of the Apple,” everything is saturated with a pristine haze.
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