Spirit Moves (SP23-102)
by Fergus Marsh
Fergus Marsh toured and recorded with Bruce during the mid-to-late 1980s, working on Stealing Fire, World of Wonders, Big Circumstance and Bruce Cockburn Live. Fergus has managed to gather together a fine group of musicians for this project. Among them are some that many Bruce Cockburn fans will recognize: Hugh Marsh, Steve Bell, Rick Lazar and Michael Occhipinti. I interviewed Fergus for Gavin’s Woodpile in 1996, a few years after the release of his 1994 CD, Undertow, with his band Big Faith. Following is a review of his latest CD from a member of the Gavin’s Woodpile staff. -Daniel Keebler
The Inward Journey
by Jerri Andersen
Every great while an artist strikes a fortunate rhythm and radiance results. So is the case with the recent Fergus Marsh album Spirit Moves. Its rhythm is not merely musical but mystical. Fergus has blended harmonies that reach beyond musical notes and voice and poetry to create relationship, or at least its opportunity. The meditative styling of song in chant form and short, repeated lyrics (that are mainly biblical) tempt you to a level of consciousness where spiritual beings reside and mystical experience is possible.
The first track, Be Still, invites a journey inward and prepares you for the potential transformation that lies ahead should you continue to listen. "Be still and know that I am God" …surely is what Plato meant by "thoughts mortal and divine." The second track, Worthy, carries forth the mantra style with a diverse world beat and funked-up Chapman Stick. The combination seems to celebrate the whole of creation informed by the divine.
The third track, Shelter, harkens back to Cockburn-ish influence ala Lord of the Star Fields. It reminds us that though our senses are bound by time and space and our minds enveloped in classes of thought, a larger experience of the divine is possible. If we cling to our own ideology, our own little way of thinking, then we shut out the transcendent experience. Joseph Campbell called this "preserving our faith."
And just when you think you’ll get to bathe in the glorious experience of this higher consciousness forever, the fourth track Spirit Moves, stirs things up and forces you back to the realization that without the divine, we are left poor, with only our elemental human/animal life experience. Such experience has no more to offer than prestige, posterity, wealth, health and a little fun (if we’re lucky). How this pales in comparison to the spiritual experience, to being in union with... well, this is where words fail and metaphor is useless.
Then comes Psalm 63 and the opportunity to further explore that relationship. Musically reminiscent of my favorite lullaby, its simple spell is summoned just as sure. Similarly, Emmanuel, conjures the peaceful embrace of parent and child, of bond beyond being. "It both is and is not; neither is, nor is not" is the clarification Buddha might offer.
Musically, the seventh track, Nuthin, steps back from the rest of the CD with smooth harmonies, and a sound reminiscent of the 1970s. This track is perhaps more in the traditional Christian music style.
The last track, At the Foot of the Cross, completes the inward journey. Without word, a musical path is woven that penetrates all implication or suggestion and quietly holds you in aesthetic arrest. Epiphany. The experience of relationship with the divine –what a gift this artist offers.
Thank you, Fergus. Spirit Moves indeed.
To purchase a copy of Spirit Moves, try Amazon.