Rhea's Obsession Between Earth and Sky

Toronto's Rhea's Obsession, fronted by the duo of multi-instrumentalists Jim Field and Sue Hutton, have flown to a higher plane on their latest CD, Between Earth and Sky (their first for U.S. industrial label Metropolis Records), making good on the promise of their '96 debut, Initiation. Between Earth and Sky is a more confident and focused album than their debut and should distance Rhea's Obsession from the constant Dead Can Dance comparisons that followed their first efforts. Songs such as "Spiritual Fear," "Mahakala" and "Spill Elixir" are a strong link to Rhea's earlier work, characterised by moody string pads, washes of guitar, ebow leads, hand percussion and Sue's powerful vocals. Rather than discarding their strengths, the band builds on them and arrives at a more fully realised sound, finding their own voice while integrating new textures and world music influences. A more pronounced use of sampled sounds and drum loops adds a subtle element of electronica to the mix, and heavy thrashing guitar chords in songs like "Nightshade" and "Dreaming Blade" introduces raw strains of industrial rock. Opening tracks "Too Deep" and "Mortal Ground" are soothing, melodic songs that merge trip-hop beats with acoustic guitar and shimmering strings, evoking a Celtic sound in the spirit of Clannad. Blending Eastern sounds, world percussion, Celtic influences, electronica, rock and pop, Rhea's Obsession have arrived at an exotic sound that should endear them to a wide range of music fans. (Metropolis)