Judgement Of Paris

Judgement Of Paris

Conversion

Signal

Projekt

Judgement Of Paris appeared in Minneapolis in the early 1990s, recorded two albums, then disappeared. Now Projekt’s Archive series brings us two newly remastered versions of these albums on CD, together with several bonus tracks on each.

From gothic to tribal, ambient to Renaissance, Conversion blends ancient and modern sounds into a haunting and moving work of genius. Points of comparison include Dead Can Dance, Eden, and Love is Colder Than Death, but Conversion is really in a class of its own. How many bands do you know that can take synth, Native American flute, hammer dulcimer, and drums, and combine them into an exquisite and seamless whole? Somehow Judgement Of Paris manages that on this album, and more.

There’s not a track on Conversion that I don’t like; just when I thought I’d heard the best one yet, I’d get to the next, and find a new favorite. About half the tracks are instrumentals, such as the amazing “One,” which paints a vision of a ritual of renewal with insect-fluttering synth, outstanding Native American flute, and hollow guitars against the backdrop of a dark drone; as the shaman mutters an incantation into the firelit cave, spirits whirl in the dancing sparks, petroglyphs shift and shimmer on the walls, and a deep feeling of sacred peace reunites your shattered spirit.

The tracks with vocals on Conversion are just as good, and maybe better, tending more in a goth than tribal direction. “Spheres of Influence” is a good example. After dark ambient synth sets the scene, drums, hammer dulcimer, and beautiful male voice kick in, along with an excellent driving guitar line and dreamlike lyrics about shades who “know enough to close their hollow eyes / when we try to see behind.” Or the very spooky but also very danceable title track, with rhythmic guitar, electronic percussion, and deep dark synth animating lyrics about the creative spirit that slumbers within each of us, and its awakening….

While Conversion is an amazing album that any serious goth fan or dark/tribal ambient aficionado needs in their collection, Signal leaves much to be desired. In fact, I can’t name one track from it that I really liked. Most of the cool instrumentation featured on Conversion all but disappears on Signal, replaced by wave after wave of monotonous synth constructions. Instead of cool instrumentals, we get almost all vocal pieces, which might be OK if we could at least make out what the vocalist is saying under the heavy electronic overburden, but no go. Although there are a number of cool keyboard melodies scattered here and there on the disc, they don’t come together to go anywhere, leaving me wondering what catastrophe befell Judgement of Paris between the brilliant and inventive Conversion and the extremely disappointing Signal.

Projekt/Darkwave, P.O. Box 166155, Chicago, IL 60616; http://www.projekt.com

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