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«13 Lunar Meditations: Summoning the Witches»

«13 Lunar Meditations: Summoning the Witches» is the most ambitious and most inspiring project of Jerusalem-born, Montreal-based vocalist-composer Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, known from the all-female vocal group Mycale and her collaborative work with Israeli pianist Anat Port. This is a bold and sensual, woman-centric collaborative and multicultural concept album, a song-cycle focusing on the moon, our relationship with it and its effects on us, and especially the way the moon speaks to the intimate female presence. It features songs and poetry by more than 20 women and girls from around the globe, including Rose Gottlieb’s children (and two males – Sufi poet Sams I Tebrizi and Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish), a choir of improvising vocalists conducted by Canadian experimental vocal-artist DB Boyko, and features acclaimed vocalist Jay Clayton. Its official release coincides with the first new moon of 2021.

This project was born in 2015 when DB Boyko invited Rose Gottlieb to compose a song-cycle for her Voice Over Mind festival in Vancouver. A year later the project was presented in John Zorn’s The Stone with Clayton and materialized in its expansive form thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign. The song-cycle – sung in English, Hebrew, German, French, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish and Japanese, traces the phases of the moon, from birth to full glory and all the way back to emptiness. The songs and poems were written by a poetess, a gynecologist, a lawyer, an energy healer, a sex worker, and a grandmother. One song reflects on the menstrual cycles in connection to the lunar phases, while another takes the perspective of the moon itself, overlooking the pain-filled Gaza strip. Accordingly, the acoustic, musical envelope is rooted in jazz but incorporates ideas from art-rock, Turkish and Armenian undertones, and children’s songs.

The highlights of this poetic, imaginative, and emotional lunar-song cycle stress the mysterious feminine connection to the moon, seen as a feminine entity. «Mond», delivered by Clayton with a female choir, reflecting how a grandmother and granddaughter see the moon; the sensual «Moon Story» by jazz vocalist Katie Bull; the mad «Dissipating Discus» with DB Boyko Choeur Luna, reciting the words of Israeli singer Shelly Mehari: «I love to ovulate when the moon is full and bleed when she disappears»; the dramatic, spoken-word «Luna» by Myclae’s comrade, Argentinian vocalist Sofia Rei, complaining about «An army of poets and lovers still defend your throne. / A pack of wolves and lunatics»; and the ecstatic and sensual «Traveler Woman» by Candian multi-disciplinary artist Gem Salsber, sung by Clayton and Rose Gottlieb, affirming that «the moon – she follows me everywhere / and reminds me / I am always home». The only exception is Darwish painful «I Come From There and I Remember», where the moon is only a metaphor for his lost home and homeland,, delivered brilliantly by guitarist Aram Bajakian with a matching, searing guitar solo.

The double-vinyl comes with a lunar calendar and box-set of 13 postcards, designed by Sarit Evrani. Rose Gottlieb promises to accompany – in spirit – every listening, seeing “the moon’s presence flowing from your record players and onto your walls, where the lunar calendar serves as a constant reminder of your connection to the tides. You, too, are made mostly of water. I am with you listening, observing and summoning”.

Go and pick this most beautiful lunar album.

Eyal Hareuveni

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb (v), Jay Clayton (v), Eylem Basaldi (Turkish vio, v), Aram Bajakian (g, v), Stéphane Diamantakiou (b), Ivan Bamford (dr). Choeur Luna conducted by DB Boyko: Damaris Baker (v), Christiane Charbonneau (v), Seçkin Cinar (v), David Cronkite (v), Kathy Kennedy (v), Maya Kuroki (v), Cléo Palacio-Quintin (v), Stefani Recheshter (v), Vergil Sharkya’ (v), Graham Webbe (v). Andrea Superstein (v), Bes Davies (v), DB Boyko (v),  Malika Zarra (v), Yasmin, Maor & Maia Levavi (v), Sofia Rei (v), Shelly Mehari (v), Kyoko Kitamura (v) 

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