Ex Reverie
Gig Seeker Pro

Ex Reverie

Band Rock Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Ex Reverie - The Door into Summer"

The most impressive band to come out of Greg and Jessica Weeks's Language of Stone repertoire so far is Ex Reverie. It's the spawn of Gillian Chadwick, the other half of Jessica Weeks's Woodwose.

Chadwick's singing on the band's debut, The Door into Summer, evokes a more sinister Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention), her voice rising like an incantation over the music and then falling back among the flora. Her tonal flexibility allows her to keep up with the fertile evolution of her suites (more than half the songs here exceed five minutes).

This evolution carries each song through a distinct musical history loosely rooted in parallel musical histories: that of the stringed instrument, of folk and rock music, and of her own experience as a listener and player. Listening through the accelerated eons of her songs is the equivalent of watching a lizard grow wings and feathers in real time.

Chadwick's lyrics present a world where natural forces "move quickly in slow motion" and where "constancy and context tumble in silky sleeves." Corruption dances with purification, quick passions slide into birth cycles, and gods trade places with mortals. In "The Years," Chadwick tells the story of a sea goddess who emerges from the water every generation to find her old subjects gone. With each cycle she "re-enter[s] the line" of mortality and then sublimes into the ocean once more.

Chadwick draws upon ancient myth and medieval balladry to chronicle man's immortal quest for immortality. Opener "Second Son" is about royal succession, about scribes, painters, and priests who carry on the names of princes. "Days Away" deals with the resonation of language in time, the "notes you scratched on a branch" for posterity or a memory that "unfolds like a pocketed note."

This emphasis on lyrics isn't superfluous. To ignore the words is to deny Chadwick's role as chanter in a shamanistic world, a human voice threading between lives, ecosystems, and epochs. If she is the shaman, her music is the warped and mutant landscape. The seven mercurial minutes of "Second Son" will provide an apt master narrative for our account of the album as a whole. The song opens sparsely with ominous acoustic strumming interspersed with Greg Weeks's "tropical guitar" (his words) as Chadwick cycles through a descending vocal melody. At around the ninety-second mark, new voices begin to align over hers, layers of cloud thickening. Then, about ten seconds later, a drum kicks in and Weeks revs up his electric guitar.

The first chorus peters out before the storm thickens and leads into another verse, this time with the addition of a string section arranged by Weeks. The next chorus hits harder and louder as Weeks's lead guitar begins wailing in earnest. Finally, with two minutes remaining, the bottom drops out as a storm of glam-rock shatters the canopy of enchanted forest to reveal a circle of druids in Bowie T-shirts chanting toward the sky. As the layers of riffage build up, Weeks begins soloing over an incantation of oohs and aahs. The scene is a seance, and here is the ghost of rock 'n' roll.

The drama of the first half of The Door into Summer generally revolves around electric-guitar probing through a foliage of acoustic, strings, and chiming percussion. "The Crowning" opens with an eminently Black Sabbath riff on cello and a steady buildup of strings and cymbals. Halfway through, Weeks sends his caustic electric zipping in insectival lines of flight, noodling in and out of the lower registers only to blend at last into the reedy melody of a classic ARP synth.

In the fantastic "Dawn Comes for Us All," Chadwick branches off into prog-folk territory, her voice recalling the sinister bacchanalia of England's Comus. The skittish melodies that weave throughout the song recall Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick, though "Days Away" more closely approximates the concept album, with its rapid tonal changes and drums that move from military cadence to Renaissance fare.

The second half of the album, starting with "Cedar," marks the dissipation of glam-rock guitars, their electricity now channeled into synthesized drones. Though electric guitar doesn't completely vanish, it remains as a kind of a static net around the music reminiscent of Espers's gloomy atmospherics. At other times, like in "Cedar," Weeks's guitar work begins to recall the less warped and acerbic playing of Fairport Convention.

If the electronics of the album's first half served to disrupt habitats and force strange evolutions, those of the second half empty into a primordial soup of acoustics -- as if folk music had integrated the electric DNA of a virus. "Clouds? Or Smoke?" dances in bacchanalian contortions to a fascia of drones, both earthly and otherwise. Primeval drums carry the song through varying tempos and moods, throbbing in and out of that distinctly groovy and gothic dissonance mastered by Comus. "Wooden Sword" with tambourines and an impish vocal turn evokes a midsummer gloaming in a time when forests were the fathomless haunt of fairies and not political battlegrounds.

Ex Reverie is an exciting band to listen to. The Door into Summer is the kind of album that makes you impatient for the next one. Chadwick works in a timeless vocabulary of sounds and syllables, a language that welcomes the modern world into the bosom of nature. In this way it is a generous and boundless music for all its darkness. Ex Reverie's debut would be an apt manifesto of Language of Stone's sonic sensibilities as well as its distinctly tribal relation to the ethics and economics of music-making in the new millennium. - Prefix

"Psych rock ... for Wiccans"

Ripe with drama, rippling with rainbow colored acid flourishes, moored loosely with cello and violin and viola, but flapping crazily in the wind, this debut album from Ex Reverie is the most rocking, least traditional sort of freak folk, an ominous LSD daydream that can be entered but not explained.

Of course, this line of freak folk, with the emphasis on "freak", goes all the way back to Comus, maybe further, as bands from the 1960s on have learned the traditional folk moves only to subvert them, soak them in acid, explode them into shooting star fragments. The line between psychedelic rock and folk is a fluid one, now as then, with bands like Bardo Pond venturing occasionally out of drone into delicate guitar picking, and artists like Devendra Banhart riding multicolored sea horses into styles far removed from porch blues. There are even precedents for incorporating baroque classical strings into the freakiest sort of folk. Just look at recent efforts by Fern Knight, Fursaxa and Rasputina. The bottom line is that Ex Reverie is different, but not unprecedented, following Grace Slick more than Joni Mitchell, opting for trippy, day-glo rabbit holes rather than gentle finger-picked murder ballads.

The core of Ex Reverie comes out of a Philadelphia avant-folk outfit called Golden Ball, whose two married members—David and Gillian Chadwick—establish the foundations for this band's sound. They are helped along by much of Philly's out-there royalty, Greg Weeks of Espers (and the label Language of Stone) cranking out his signature trippy electric guitar lines, Margie Wienk of Fern Knight on cello, and Jessica Weeks on flute. The result is a sound that's half rock, half chamber orchestra, the rhythm often carried by sawing bows rather than slamming sticks.

The most interesting instrument, however, may well be Gillian Chadwick's voice, witchy and untrammeled as it wails, keens, croons, sighs, insinuates and comforts. It's the sort of voice that seems to be blowing in a hurricane wind, spiraling skyward in a sudden updraft, scratching and rasping as it scrapes the ground beneath her. She can turn on a dime from sing-song-y lullaby to banshee wail, and even after several plays through the album, you feel that you never know exactly what she'll do next.

It's a voice for myth and folklore, and, not surprisingly, it's wrapped around some very surreal symbolic imagery. "Second Son", which opens the album, finds her whisper-crooning about an evocative, not quite linear series of archaic images, "Little princes in their parlors, little dogs in their colors, little girls with their fathers, walking down a hall of mirrors." "The Crowning", with its scratchy cello rhythms, observes that. "sometimes this whole house is liminal" and finds a door to another world within. Yet the most compelling images have a skewed naturalness to them. The girl emerging from the water in "The Years", "hair falling in ropes" is sketched with the clarity of a photograph. Though the song is about memory and forgetting, the image itself is indelible.

If there's a drawback to all this, it's the merest whiff of self-consciousness, a "how weird these songs be" kind of arch-ness that sets quotation marks around The Door Into Summer's most ominous moments. Every so often, these songs slip from genuinely creepy, fully-in-the-moment musical craft into playacting, with outsized gestures and overplayed emotions. It's not easy maintaining the illusion of Middle Ages magic, baroque musicianship and 1960s rock abandon ... and every once in a while, the staging slips. Still that's an occasional flaw. For the most part, this door leads into otherness, as brightly colored and mythical as freak folk can be. - Popmatters

"Live at Cakeshop"

Ex Reverie's The Door Into Summer, just out on folk-scene-stars Greg and Jessica Weeks's Language of Stone label, takes the Renaissance Faire sound and blasts it wide open with honest-to-god rawk. Buzzing guitars blend startlingly with strings and a wealth of other instruments to help expand the canvas on which singer Gillian Chadwick lays her preapocalyptic dramas. - Time Out New York

"Ex Reverie - The Door into Summer"

Philadelphia's Ex Reverie describe themselves as "glam rock from the year 1066," or "glam-folk" for short. The outfit is largely the work of singer and multi-instrumentalist Gillian Chadwick, along with a group of backing musicians. Listening to the music, the glam-folk label seems pretty apt, as it touches frequently on both genres. The poetic lyrics and some of the arrangements seem to be in touch with folk traditions (with a touch of Zeppelin-esque mysticism), but the blazing guitars and rock rhythms call upon the glam bombast of Bowie and Bolan. While the music certainly evokes the sounds of the past, there's no denying that "The Door Into Summer" is a fresh and exciting album in its own right.

Probably the most interesting detail of the album is how much it manages to vary its approach, but still remain cohesive. The album opens with a double blast from the songs "Second Son" and "The Crowning." "Second Son" starts quite lightly, but then, in a seamless transition, explodes into a heavy electric guitar, only to back down once again. The rest of the song alternates the loud and the soft, ending in full-on rock. Simply put, the quiet parts are intense, the loud parts soar, and all parts are catchy as hell. "The Crowning" follows with a brooding mix of cello, violin, synthesizer, electric guitar, and drums. The song is never pummeling, but still incredibly powerful with an intricate instrumental sound. The folkiest track (which still manages to bring in some electric guitar, by the way) is the the epic ballad "Cedar." Most of the song churns with violin, acoustic guitar, lightly-plucked electric guitar, bass, and minimal percussion. However, toward the end, the volume and intensity grows for a powerful finish. Also of note is the dark, nearly sinister, "Clouds? or Smoke," where Chadwick delivers the fantastic verse, "crest and collapse / anticipation revs each synapse / you're smudged around the edges / laughing in sepia tone / moving quickly in slow motion / and not a sound is heard."

It might take you a few listens, but this album definitely makes its home in your mind (and CD player). Really, it's worth the time to get to know the striking lyrics, inventive instrumentation, and fantastic arrangements. Each of these elements are tucked away like little surprises throughout the entirety of "The Door Into Summer," waiting to be heard. What ultimately makes this album a great one is that it manages to adeptly channel the group's glam and folk influences and become something all its own. And for the record, after listening to lots of Ex Reverie of late, I'd definitely like to know where the sign-up sheet is for the glam-folk fan club. 9/10
- Foxy Digitalis

"Ex Reverie"

"With a soft call/ Dawn comes for us all," Gillian Chadwick chants on The Door Into Summer, her long-gestating debut as Ex Reverie. It's one of the more chilling moments on a chilling album, and it provides the center for a long, stirring song that piles on handclaps, Chadwick's sinister lead guitar and lots of other layers, most of which drop away for that crucial lull in which Chadwick holds our hearts in her hand.

Recorded in warm analog by Espers' Greg Weeks, who released the record on his Drag City-distributed Language of Stone label, The Door Into Summer would sound ancient if not for its remarkable crispness. You can pick out every instrument, from cello and violin to organ and flute, even when songs snake toward a blistering crescendo. Weeks bestows his patented acid leads when needed, also handling a few string arrangements.

Other guests include Margie Wienk (aka Fern Knight), Chadwick's husband and Golden Ball bandmate David Chadwick, and Weeks' wife Jessica, who plays with Chadwick in Woodwose. None of their appearances is surprising, considering the incestuous scene that Espers, Golden Ball and friends have cultivated in Philly. What is surprising is how much the record plays like grim psych instead of the freaky folk that people might expect from someone who makes elfish apparel in her spare time.

Chadwick calls Ex Reverie "glam folk," and certain songs do feel like Bowie and Merlin collaborating on some sick sorcery. "The Crowning" opens with Wienk's commanding cello, "Days Away" has a strummy lilt, "Wooden Sword" may just be some drowsy incantation and the standout "Cedar, Pt. 2" is all too short. Chadwick's lyrics dwell happily on all things sylvan and gothic, mingling with an evil-sounding strain of rock that will bewilder anyone expecting another Joanna Newsom.
- Philadelphia Weekly

"Ex Reverie - The Door into Summer"

Ex Reverie's outing solidly continues Language of Stone's esoteric offerings. This Philadelphian scene happening is metaphorically building a musical fortress holding the Oracle of Delphi.

Ex Reverie stands as the culminated music seances of Gillian Chadwick, fantastic explorer of glam, philosophy, mystical occultism and silver age science fiction. Though not her very first release, The Door Into Summer intensely serves as her first proper full length. As the age demands (like poet Ezra Pound lamented long ago), she is a multi-instrumentalist playing a slew of a various guitars, dulcimer, vox, fender Rhodes piano and lots of the shaky little percussive devices. Also as the age demands, she has five other musicians enable the completion of her vision.

Chadwick learned to pick the six string way back in the days of girlhood in a small antebellum house starkly looking out upon the Blue Ridge Mountains where family sing along around the iron wood stove were not uncommon. A couple of years later a Bowie obsession really made her influences interesting. All this is really not necessary to color what Chadwick accomplishes on her striking witchy debut.

Often, instrumentation veers to the ornate while the arrangement is just as important as the basic song itself. A certain overworked artiness occasionally holds the album back. Chadwick's magical, stark language and a lone guitar would be just as effective, especially if she stretched her singing out a little bit. Chadwick has a strong, beautiful voice, though too often the album finds her in safe middle ground. Lyrically, Chadwick explores fantasy imagery intermingling with science fiction. The very album title is taken from a Robert Heinlein novel.

Ambitiously cascading like a secret pummeling waterfall, "Second Son" boasts some of the strongest effective arrangements throughout. Removed from folk styling, instead marching on the muddy roads of midnight bad trips the song shines dark alienation. Classic, snarling fuzz guitars, unnerving tempo changes and moaning cellos amplify a cryptic narrative of murder and little princes, reminiscent of a lost Shakespearian, tragic ascending plot. The song only fails slightly in subtle muted production techniques.

Pursuing impossible answers from shards of time's relentless reflecting, "The Years" delves into the dilemma of holding any belief system in today's post exploited modernist age where utilitarianism seems to reign, at least in the United States. Chadwick sings "come with me now to the edge of the sand/ you and I can decide where to stand." Such literate explorations presented so simply and elegantly can contrast grossly, even within a single song's boundaries. "The Years" also contains unfortunate lines like "lo, how do the years rush."

Startling, "dawn comes for us all" maximizes a minimalist sensibility to an intricate dialogue of slow burning embers. A dirty distorted guitar riff sounding as if Bowie's "Jean Genie" was deconstructed seesaws with Chadwick's eerie handclaps punctuating vocal proclamations of fate's inevitability.

Snake-like hypnotism shivering from a Middle Eastern guitar line collides with '70s dystopian moog synthesizer within the visceral mysterious of the tune, "Clouds? Or smoke?" The song can be summed up as simultaneous bravado and a deftly poetic Wicca like incantation. Messy and mesmerizing, lyrical lines like "crest and collapse/ anticipation revs each synapse" are perplexing and stay with the listener.

"Wooden Sword," like a sister song to the previous, sears with soft, hot white blades of Middle Eastern tones. The song's chorus though is more upbeat with delicate metalophone (similar to xylophone?) contrasting with the increasingly frantic disembodied tempos of the verses. Chadwick shows her poetic gifts again with evocative imagery like "golden apple, wooden sword/ lion wreathed in evergreen." Placing the songs together like twin sisters was a right on choice.

Ex Reverie's The Door Into Summer creates powerful, time traveling emotional texts threaded upon musical tapestries that put hexes on typical, hipster musical cliches. Literary and smart, Chadwick avoids stultifying irony while offering emotionally honesty in peculiar and wondrously hermetic language. Ex Reverie does not pose and wants to procure a dance with you. This music calls for drunken mystics and the drone numbering hordes alike. - Stereo Subversion

"Listen Up"

Ex Reverie, The Door Into Summer (out about a week ago): Very ambitious original take on rocked-up traditional folk balladry...Singer and songwriter Gillian Chadwick seems like someone to keep an ear on. - USAToday.com:

"Ex Reverie - The Door into Summer"

"Second Son", the first song on Ex Reverie's fine The Door Into Summer, offers a wonderful contrast. What begins as a potentially go-nowhere dirge erupts into a brief out-of-the-past acid-rock freakout, the maxed out guitars mingling uneasily with strings and woodwinds, not to mention singer Gillian Chadwick's deceptively pure voice. - Pitchfork


Jan 22, 2008: "The Door into Summer" released on Language of Stone, manufactured and distributed by Drag City.



Ex Reverie’s prima mobile Gillian Chadwick's conscious employment of the fantastic within epic confines heralds a return to a reality deeper than most modern folksinger neo-realists can manage to muster. The Door Into Summer evokes a unique realm wherein dulcimers and glam-rock guitar frenzies manifest with uniform importance; the trick of knowing not to discern a difference between them is one which Gillian understands better than any other current acolyte of storied 70's sonic alchemist Tony Visconti (Tyrannosaurus Rex, David Bowie). Lyrically deft and delicate, Gillian's degree in Philosophy as well as a life-long love for myth and science fiction all speak through, and carry the listener through this diaphanous landscape.