Album Review: Horse Heaven by Lucette Bourdin

Album cover: Horse Heaven by Lucette BourdinLucette Bourdin’s 2010 album Horse Heaven, her seventh release on the Earth Mantra netlabel, is excellently described on the album’s release page as one of Lucette’s most mystical, intimate, reflective and spiritual albums. At the same time, it evokes the glories of the night sky, of the mind-conquering vastness of creation, to an extent that is rarely equalled.

This sums up, as well as can be done, the dual qualities in Lucette’s music, and in all great space music, which may seem paradoxical on the surface but are seamlessly fused: the intimate and the infinite; the interstellar and the introspective. The telescope aimed at the heavens can also work as a microscope, a psychic mirror. So it is with Horse Heaven: what is clearly a personal, spiritual quest plays like a journey through deep space. Inner space and outer space – are they so different after all? Perhaps it merely depends on one’s level of vision.

Horse Heaven is ecstatic, transcendent deep drift, full of heavenly choir-like pads and organ-like sonorities. The opening piece, Inner Vastness, is a ten-minute heartsong, rising and falling like a hymn, not so much coming into being as coming into awareness that it was always present. In Torrent of Nectar, the artist stands in awe; beatific and still, only music can begin to describe her vision. How, then, can we reduce it to words?

Lucette taps the pulse of creation with the swelling, crystalline chords of The Luminous Ocean, radiating out to the dome of the universe, and the growling, powerful bass of Fearless Light. In Dweller in the Infinite, I hear reverence in the face of true majesty, ever-expanding, awe-inspiring and serene.

For the final three pieces, Lucette reaches to her palette for a few more colors and textures. The Unnumbered Stars features a classical chamber music feel, with a hybrid piano/cello sound. Celestial Winds, the album’s most active and layered piece, sweeps us away at once into a vast spiral eye, with wonders swirling around us. We hear harp, sitar, harpsichord, birds and burbling water, as we pass by many worlds – reminded of home, and on our way to returning there.

The closer, Mystic Horse, is altogether unlike anything else on the album: percussive echoes in deep space; a slow, primitive, ritual drumbeat; bits of wooden flute, triangle, claves – all of this fades out to a rising and falling electric piano-like line, but the drumbeat has the last word. The ritual remains, taking us out but bringing us back into the body, leaving us so much richer for the journey.

Horse Heaven is mystic, ineffable, introspective and god-seeking – exploring and celebrating both external and internal infinities, and a quest for their meeting place. Imagine church music for everyone, without any sectarian baggage, with no need for division or fear – just sharing the wonder of this life eternal. That’s how I would sum up this essential release, from an artist whose music should be heard by all.

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