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Michael Cashmore - The Doctrine Of Transformation Through Love 1

Michael Cashmore is best known for his lush melodic guitar work as an integral part of Current 93, as well as for his own group Nature and Organisation who brought together Tibet, Rose McDowall and Douglas P. to create Beauty Reaps The Blood of Solitude one of the finest albums of what was then known as "apocalyptic folk". His later solo work under his own name include the instrumental album Sleep England and the piano based mini album The Snow Abides which featured vocals from Anohni then known as Antony (of the Johnsons) and it is perhaps only these piano pieces which tie The Doctrine Of Transformation Through Love 1 to his earlier work. There's none or at least very little of the customary guitar work that sprinkled magic to the works of Current 93. The Doctrine Of Transformation Through Love 1 as the title says concentrates on transformation. The key to that change has been personal but it is also reflected in the album, scheduled to be first in a series, which moves to a very different form to which we associate Michael Cashmore. His compositions on The Doctrine Of Transformation Through Love 1 are based around rhythmic electronics, ambience and experimental textures often taking the form of melodic techno. It veers heavily into soundtrack styled pieces along with a number of vocal tracks featuring Lithuanian born occultist Shaltmira, with whom he has released a limited 12-inch, where he provided musical improvisations for Shaltmira's vocals. It was a collaboration which lead to the duo performing two live Transformation rituals.

The radical shift in Cashmore's musical output is evident instantly, as the opening track, 'The Gateway To All Understanding', enters with the accented spoken voice of Shaltmira speaking of darkness being "the gateway to all understanding". There's a sense of elevation as it lifts off into glinting electronics and techno beats dovetailing into passages of melancholic piano chime and rising once again with gliding prog electro sequences. You will be surprised with how the album evolves but before it fully opens ups into the light a run of quietly effective tracks reside in darker realms. 'Perception Should Not Influence Perspectives' is the first of a number of experimental soundtrack styled pieces, couching a tender piano score of the type he does so beautifully amidst an experimental piece of sidereal electronics. A sense of majesty is inherent within 'Before The Crown There Lies Thorns' casting solemn synths against wavering, flickering electronics, passing through hammering beats, stuttering synths and electro sequences. It's almost a battle between beauty and turmoil where melody competes with musical disarray. The sequences at times recall the Pagan techno of Mother Destruction, but even amidst this ravaged score Cashmore finds space for gentle, tumbling piano notes. Absent of beats the next two tracks are more cinematic digging deeper into darkness with the fluttering storm based atmospherics of 'Do Not Be Consumed By The Concept Of Death', shadowed by an ominous string score. 'There Is A Way Out Of The Dark Forest' is more brooding where atmospheric experimental electronics cloak tender piano movements. Evocative and haunting, it acts as a form of meditative mood music.

Even though previous tracks offer chinks of light up till now you might still be in doubt of the changes that have propelled Michael Cashmore. The big revelation in his musical evolution really occurs midway through the album. From a series of piano notes, 'We Are All Responsible' lurches into beating, pulsating electronics. It's as if we have passed from the dark into the light, with life affirming movements captured in rhythm heavy shuffling tones and chiming keys. Shaltmira returns on 'Physical Life Only Happens Once, Transform Now!' weaving dark incantations, like a modern day Freya Aswynn, over computerised sequences and rhythmic claps in an invigorating and powerful shamanic techno piece invoking "a chaos beast" shot through with layers of melodic synth. Synth pop elements opens up the restless arrangement of 'The Sacred Revolving Formula Of Opposites' before it sweeps up everything from melodic techno, tinkering strings and drum segments and back again to poppy synths and sequences. These tracks are enjoyable enough but it's not exactly progressive especially when compared to what other electronic artists are doing today. Music, though, has acted as a form of therapy to Michael Cashmore during bouts of loneliness and depression and 'Healing Sonic Medication' more than hints at that where melodic analogue electronics are augmented by a recurring happy house styled piano motif. At this point in time Michael Cashmore is more interested in radiating positivity through empathy, compassion, kindness and love. And even if I were to turn off my critical musical head even I found myself absorbed and happily moving to these tracks, appreciative of the fact that Michael Cashmore wants, maybe even needs, to change as an individual. The fact that he wants to take you along with his change is commendable which makes being too down on these tracks quite difficult.

I do wonder what dyed in the wool Current 93 fans will make of this though, as there's little here resembling Cashmore's invaluable musical contributions to the likes of Thunder Perfect Mind, Of Ruine Or Some Blazing Starre, All The Pretty Little Horses and countless others albums. Titlewise, though, 'The Swallow Flies Free And Formless' could easily have been lifted from the Current 93 songbook. It is of course something else musically, and thankfully free of the above criticisms. Here light synth scales ascend alongside electric piano, as it opens up into the wide skies bathed in string led melodies and electro sequences to complete the feeling of flying free and formless.

In soft murmurs Shaltmira continually repeats the word "Transformation" as melodic piano unfurls and swells into a tender ensemble piece of piano, drums and electro sequences, taking the elements of the album into a moody and melancholic space. If Cashmore's lyrics on the preceding 'Conscious Transformational Mantra' are reduced to just one word, 'The Doctrine Of Love And Opposites' provides an insight into his current thinking on the power of transformation. Loneliness, sadness and bad feelings about ourselves are transitory and illusory and over flickering and chiming electronics Shaltmira in spoken tones recites Cashmore's key message: "We should always rejoice every single success in our daily lives no matter how small, this is what brings happiness even if we are lonely. We should always strive to be the person we know we can be and be happy in this journey, it only happens once." This is the transformation Michael Cashmore strives for encouraging us to do likewise.

The final words rounding off the album given by Bill Fay on the closing track 'Lean Upon The Light Voice' may sound out of place here but it helps to ground it to its starting point. Cashmore is a musician, composer and artist currently transforming and this track harks back to his past. Its opening bars echoing Current 93 as gentle piano notes tumble amidst organ chime swelling into the world weary voice of Bill Fay, shadowed by bass tones and occasional guitar strum. It's an optimistic heartfelt paean, fitting within the confines of the album, with a snaking lead guitar accompanying Fay as he, like Cashmore, journeys on, staying true and leaning upon the light.

The Doctrine Of Transformation Through Love 1 will surprise you, especially given his musical background. The album isn't without its faults, some especially younger listeners might wince at some of the more dated sounding techno pieces. Music however acts as a form of therapy for Michael Cashmore. At home in a corner of his room he composes, pushing boundaries with music that reflects his ongoing transformation. This is the first in a series of albums reflecting his transformation. Where he goes next is anyone's guess but for now he showcases his melodic tendencies documenting his journey from darkness into the light through complex arrangements of electronic, ambience and experimental music. It is an intriguing change, sometimes confounding, sometimes enlightening but I'm sure joining Michael Cashmore on this journey is going to something of a trip. The Doctrine Of Transformation Through Love 1 is available on CD from Klanggalerie