9 Apr 2016

Constantine – Day of Light

Reviewed by Timothy Ferguson

I know many independent musicians who feel it necessary to comply with some bizarre schedule and release records every year. I would argue that by doing so, one can place limitations on one’s own creativity and the quality of recorded material.

With the release of "Day of Light", Constantine Hastalis has offered up an impressive counter argument to this industry-approved schedule. Painstakingly recorded, mixed and mastered over a four-year period, "Day of Light" is a fine example of what an artist can achieve when they take their time. No detail is insignificant, no syllable is beyond scrutiny; because in the end, if the vision is true, the result will justify the means.

"Day of Light" is a triumph of the modern recording process and proof positive that psychedelia can be elevated to high (no pun intended) art. From song craft to performance, through arrangement and production, "Day of Light" shines with crystalline perfection. Acid folk seems too shabby a category to assign to this record, because this is something altogether different. Instrumentation includes flute, tabla, melotron, bouzouki, vibraphone, autoharp, piccolo, harpsichord and many others. With such a rich sonic palette to work from, Constantine has crafted nothing short of a psychedelic masterpiece that stands on par and in league with Love’s "Forever Changes, The Zombies’ "Odyssey and Oracle" and Pretty Things’ "SF Sorrow".

The opening track, "(Into the Land) That Time Forgot", is a portal, similar to Alice’s rabbit hole, to a dimension where 60’s innocence still lives, where the listener can return to a place of hope that no longer exists in the waking world (but could). "The Trip (pts I & II)" follows with its subtle jazzy swing and clear-eyed warning that the listener is not in Kansas anymore. This song perfectly captures the psychedelic experience as well as the experience of listening to "Day of Light". You have entered a place of magic and beauty and no matter the outcome, you may be changed forever. "Egyptian Days" veers eastward, through the valley of good and evil, as bouzouki and sitar shine through the smoke of incense and jasmine. With "Song of the Seven Willows" and "On Through the Ages", we time shift to medieval England, where the lovely Jennifer Williams casts her siren voice through the mists of Avalon. "Voyage of the Crystal Bird" and "Forest Path" shimmer with flute and swirling vocals, further strengthening the power of this sonic journey. When we finally reach the penultimate song "Rania", the haze clears and we are left standing at the core of the dream, ready to be swept away to our destiny. This song is a true tour de force, full of power, beauty and magic, and you will want it to go on forever.

"Day of Light" closes this magnificent record with a question mark, and not the exclamation point some might have hoped for. ‘The sun goes down, the day has vanished” sings Constantine as our journey comes to an end, but he offers the following benediction:

The day of light, the day the trees grew from the earth
The day of light, the day of death and the day of birth
The day of light, the day of love and the day of hate
The day of light, of destruction and create
The day of light, the day of beauty and the day of sin
The day of light, of the power of the light within.

The dream is over, but the power of that dream is within us now. What will we do with it? Personally, I will spread the word about this essential record and hope that it inspires my fellow musicians to always reach much higher. We only have one life after all, one single day of light. Make it count.

The first vinyl pressing of "Day of Light" has sold out, but a second pressing from Greece will be available summer of 2016, and pre-orders are being taken now on the artist's BandCamp page. Eye Vybe Records has released Day of Light on cassette and a digital version is for sale via the URL below:

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