THE 14 PAGE CD BOOKLET contains a wealth of information and images, including the English translation of Joan’s words and relevant Bible verses.
- With You
- Voices in the Light
- The Court of Chinon
Chris Snidow - Kurzweil 25OO, Ensoniq TS-10, Korg O1-W, 2 ADAT 8 Track Digital Recorders, Spirit Soundboard, Electra electric guitar, Alesis Quadraverb effects unit, and various other sound producers.
Why Joan Of Arc?
This CD is dedicated to the most attested figure in history up to the 16th century. She is The Youngest (at 17 years old) Supreme Commander of the military forces (male OR female.) throughout all of recorded history. The same church that burned her at the stake made her a Saint 500 years later.
Her life has many striking similarities to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. For example: centering her life around prayer to the God of the Bible, her kindness and affinity for the poor and unwanted, a sham trial, an unjust death, asking for the forgiveness of her persecutors even as she was being led to the stake, her always unerring and specific prophecies---and a number of others.
This project was a little different from most. Here are some of the reasons why: EACH PIECE begins with a quote of Joan of Arc spoken in her native French tongue, backed by music and ‘atmospheric enhancers’, and this leads into a music composition.
THE MUSIC IS a mixture of many styles including: contemporary instrumental/new age/classical/electronic/space/ and ambient.
I had a lot of help on this 4 year project. Clark Rice loaned his many musical talents to several of the pieces on this CD, and Catherine Henon spoke the original French words of Joan of Arc. Janet Powell was responsible for the beautiful CD booklet design. My sincere thanks to them all.
Local musician Chris Snidow has produced two well-received CDs from his studio in his White Rock Lake-area home: 1995’s From the Foundation of the World and 1999’s Number Our Days.
Both albums are highly impressionistic slices of soothing electronic sounds, inspired for the most part by passages or verses from the Bible.
Now he’s narrowed his scope with ‘Daughter or God’, Joan of Arc, a musical meditation on the 15th century saint and military leader who shook the very pillars of European society.
The 22-track disc alternates quotes from Joan-effectively voiced in French by Mr. Snidow’s wife, Catherine Henon-with musical pieces and follows the 17-year-old firebrand’s short but spectacular career.
"I went to France about five years ago and was reading original manuscripts abut Joan, "
Mr. Snidow said in a recent interview.
"I was really struck by all the parallels to Jesus. A fake trial, and unfair execution, specific prophesies-they both experienced the same thing, and Joan is one of the most attested figures from this historical period."
Mr. Snidow and Ms. Henon have expanded their interest in St. Joan beyond the sonic, and will soon be leading a pilgrimage to France to follow in her footsteps. Highlights include staying in monasteries (some of which invoke a vow of silence) and guided trips by experts such as Marie-Veronique Clin, the co–author of Joan of Arc: Her Story.
There’s obviously a lot of devoted scholarship behind these efforts: Daughter of God is the warmest and most fully realized work from Mr. Snidow yet.
2004. Matt Weitz / The Dallas Morning news
Keyboard player Chris Snidow musically transcribes the life of Joan of Arc, one of the most celebrated figures in history, on his latest release, Daughter of God: Joan of Arc. While there is no mistaking that this is a concept album of sorts, don't come here expecting music from the historical period during which Joan of Arc lived. Instead, you will be treated to a wide assortment of rhythmic and melodic keyboard and percussion pieces, varying in mood and tempo, but all of them seated comfortably under the wide umbrella term "new age music" (or adult contemporary, if you prefer). At times, the music can contain more overt electronic music elements, but the overall dominance of melodic refrains and defined structure (refrains and bridges) to the compositions, as well as their undeniable accessibility, is why I would certainly not classify this as ambient or EM.
While I certainly enjoyed this album, I do have to issue a caveat to readers. Starting with the first cut, every odd-numbered track is actually a spoken word (with sound effects and backing music) introduction to the song itself. The voice (in almost every case) belongs to Chris' wife, Catherine Henon, who speaks in French (the words are quotes by Joan of Arc, of course). As a result, there are two ways you can listen to this album. You can program out the odd-numbered tracks, leaving just the very good music, or you can play it "as is." Since the spoken word intros are usually brief (one minute more or less), I suggest you at least try it as it was intended. In the latter case, the CD works very well, unwinding (as it should) with the pace of a story being told. I happen to think French is among the most beautiful of all languages to hear spoken and Catherine Henon does have a delightful accent.
The music is a further refinement of Snidow's most recent effort, the excellent and overlooked Number Our Days. Snidow is one of those artists who, album after album, hones his skills to a finer degree every time. Here, he takes the level of musicianship, composition, and engineering to a still higher level than before, blending his keyboards (whether overtly electronic or orchestral instrumentation in nature) to yield rich sonic tapestries of strong emotional resonance (and some catchy melodies too). There is no need to "tune in" to the life of Joan of Arc if one doesn't want to (although the copious liner notes make for a fascinating read if you are unfamiliar with the Maid of Orleans, including an essay on her life by no less an author than Mark Twain). Just the same, this is a CD that can also be savored and appreciated simply for the music (by the way, Snidow is occasionally assisted by another keyboardist, Clark Rice, on several songs as well as Rice co-authoring some pieces).
From the harp arpeggios, lush strings, and percussion of the opening "With You", to the dramatic neo-classical romanticism of "Voices in the Light", to the overt new age stylings of "The Court of Chinon" (twinkling bell tones and wood flute samples) to the thumping beats and powerful keyboards of "Orleans", then moving into later tracks such as "Conduit" which carries an air of subtle majesty in its lower and upper register strings and "Floater" which weds percolating synth-organic percussion, fluid bass lines, and spacy washes of keyboards, Snidow has obviously poured his heart and soul into every minute of Daughter of God. It shows. Production is near meticulous and the recording is both ambitious and accomplished. While I won't judge the religious aspect of the album (I believe it is too personal a matter for a critic to intrude on), I do admire Chris Snidow's obvious devotion to his faith and his desire to paint this musical portrait of France's patron saint.
Purely as a piece of music, I can certainly recommend it to those who enjoy well-done electronic keyboard music that is structured (as opposed to ambient in nature), accessible, dramatic, and conveys a variety of moods.
If you are a devout Catholic, I would imagine the rewards of the CD are intensified appropriately.
2004. Bill Binkelman
"Joan of Arc" is the third album released by the American multi-instrumentalist, Chris Snidow, who has been active in the music industry since the sixties. Together with his wife, Catherine Hénon (who speaks in the French language on the album), and his musician friend, Clark Rice, Chris offers a musical representation of the vicissitudes of the holy martyr, Jeanne d’Arc.
Alternate tracks feature spoken French introductions, which on successive hearings can of course be left in or out by personal choice. The booklet contains Mark Twain’s account of Jeanne d’Arc, and it is a superbly edited translation of the French texts into English. Perhaps musically it offers no fresh surprises. But it is worth hearing in every respect, especially if your taste tends toward new age and light progressive genres that surround a melodic touch. Without the texts (which I personally find unnecessary), the album is about forty minutes long. Subtle rhythms, and classically hued sound palettes of strings, alternate flutes, ‘ordinary’ synths, and cello and piano sources, provide comfortable and sweet tones to the melodies. The occasional cosmic tendency ("Voices in the Light") takes care of the necessary tension against the more rhythmic "Orleans", where we can hear how good a keyboardist Chris is.
Some pieces closely resemble those of Patrick O’Hearn, and that can be considered a compliment.
Menno von Brucken Fock / SonicImmersion.org