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Boots, Cornelius: Holy Flute

Holy bamboo flute Metal Man, it's Cornelius Boots!! A man with an obvious love for old school metal and a passion for the bamboo flute Mr. Boots decided his best course of action was to combine the two. His inspiration arrived after his clarinet professor asked him to try and play an etude just as Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder might sing it. The results unlocked tone issues and compositional dead ends the flute man had previously stumbled across and the inkling of Holy Flute came into being.

Half and halving between six heavy metal covers and six original compositions, this album is as stripped back as you can find; occasional handclaps at the conclusion of Lamb Of God's "Blacken The Cursed Sun" and the pitter patter of rain as the Dio era Sabbath classic, "Heaven And Hell" comes to a close, the only deviations from the bamboo. Although Jon Kypros provides jinashi shakuhachi almost throughout, with Ken Mujitsu LaCosse adds jinashi Taimu shakuhachi (which are also styles of bamboo flutes, it would appear). The results, I'm sure, will delight any devotees of said instruments, Boots a skilled musician and arranger, and yet it's hard to pretend that for anyone else, Holy Flute isn't anything other than hard going.

A breathy instrument at the best of times, the in between note inhales can be heard in a way that distracts similarly to when a skilled acoustic guitarist's playing is distorted by the sound of fingers slide-screeching up and down the strings. Something that would have been easier to ignore in a setting that didn't leave everything so bare and stark. Danzig's "Until You Call On The Dark", Sabbath's "Damaged Soul" and Led Zep's "No Quarter" all come and go, hugely faithful to the originals, Boots sometimes taking up the guitar riffs, sometimes the vocal melodies - or as in the case of "Heaven And Hell", both. But the problem is… that's it. All the drama and dynamics from the originals are lost and light and shade they all contain simply flattened into an unwaveringly samey approach. The originals fare no better, the love and passion put into this album clear to hear, but the ability to hold the listener's attention in extremely scarce supply. While the closing version of Sabbath's "Behind The Wall Of Sleep", where Boots combines flute with singing, is, being harsh, quite excruciating.

I can't and won't pretend to be an expert on bamboo, or any other types of flute. However, taken purely on the level of whether the reinterpretations laid out here made me smile in that knowing way, when an instantly recognisable classic from a genre is re-crafted into something different entirely, Holy Flute proves resolutely unrewarding. With the originals taking on the same approach but lacking the familiarity, they fare no better.

Holy Flute came into life through an Indiegogo campaign, so there's obviously some love and enthusiasm out there for what Cornelis Boots is doing. Personally I can muster neither for an album that made me feel most satisfied when it had ended.


Track Listing
1. Blacken the Cursed Sun
2. Heaven and Hell
3. Purgatory
4. Until You Call on the Dark
5. Damaged Soul
6. No Quarter
7. Hymn to the She-Dragon of the Deep
8. The Devil Points
9. Taste of Nothing
10. Year of the Goat God of the Flute
11. Generuslu
12. Behind the Wall of Sleep

Added: July 9th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Holy Flute at CD Baby
Hits: 272
Language: english

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