Constantine’s debut LP Day Of Light will lead you on a lysergic odyssey filled with flute, sitar, Mellotron, electric harpsichord & more. The LP includes help from members of legendary ’71 folk psychedelic masterpiece O.W.L. (Of Wondrous Legends), including album art by Stephen Titra. A strong emphasis is placed on songwriting and arrangement, while the songs themselves have a Baroque, nuanced and hopeful atmosphere. Fans of the 1969/70 dense, delicate and psychedelic/folk psych sound need to get Day Of Light into your ears!……………
A modern private press gem from Constantine – like a lost psych folk masterpiece from the late 60s or early 70s! Day Of Light’s intro is called “(Into The Land) That Time Forgot”, which could apply to where this record comes from and to where it transports the listener! Stylistically, it’s steeped strongly in airy psychedelia and folk jazz, built by guitars, Mellotron, vibes, harpsichord, sitar, flute, beautifully layered vocal and lots more. It’s also tripped out a bit by some subtle studio effects, giving a bit of modern footing and helps it stand out strongly from a lot of the lesser neo-classic psych in the post-millennium! Titles include “The Trip (Parts I & II)”, “Egyptian Days”, “Song Of The Seven Willows”, “On Through The Ages”, “Fountains/Reflections”, “Voyage Of The Crystal Bird”, “Rania”, “Day Of Light” and more. ……………
Mining the terrain of pure expression via expertly synthesizing life-long kicks to maximum effect, Chicago-based Constantine has quickly amassed international accolades from lauded deep heads and trainspotters alike with his dulcet-toned, ambitious psychedelic folk dosed with moments of meticulous, atmospheric mellow and mammoth moments of high-flying psychedelia. After deep, teenage woodshedding and a succession of short-lived bands throughout his 20’s he focused his efforts into composing material for a solo project, in which he’d utilize players from Chicago present and past, with diverse backgrounds in jazz, folk, rock and world musics. In addition to putting his own hand to the keys of the Mellotron and Vox, guitars, bouzouki and percussion, he was aided by local friends and comrades from his most recent combo—Constantine & The Emperors (which dissolved in 2009)—on autoharp, harmonium, harpsichord, mandolin, sitar, tablas, et al. Additional augmentation was provided by Steve Hastalis—flute and piccolo virtuoso who contributed to the Ides Of March’s Common Bond (and is the artists’ uncle)—as well as members of early ‘70s lost baroque acid-folk combo O.W.L (Of Wondrous Legend) in Al Keeler (vibraphone, marimba, bells) and Stephen Titra (12-String acoustic Guild—and creator of the striking cover and gatefold art which includes ancient story book-like illustrations) in draping the flesh over his bare-boned compositions to bring his debut solo album, Day Of Light, to life.
Self-released in a minute edition of 300 copies in December of 2015, after four years of recording and separating wheat from chaff, Day Of Light weaves a tapestry of sounds from the late '60s/early '70s with nods to melodic West Coast psych, Anglophile acid folk, the Bosstown Sound and shades of cult acts such as HP Lovecraft, project collaborators O.W.L., Serpent Power, Subway, Tudor Lodge—especially apparent in Constantine’s femme foil, the soaring and soothing songbird Jen Williams—and Ultimate Spinach, while maintaining its own unique voice and not descending into a paint-by-numbers bit of museum-piece idol worship. Like Balduin and The Coral, Constantine creates pitch-perfect recreations, while leaving enough modern polish intact to not render his creations inaccessible or too arcane. Imbued with a child-like sense of wonder concerning one’s environment and enraptured by the mystical, the album treads on “the lifelong search for the strange and beautiful utopia you experience as a child…” says Constantine, while still focusing on contentedly working toward future bliss. Day Of Light’s lightly whimsical, gentle, dreamy, beatific and sublime qualities have astonished even the most scrupulous, with respected reissue house Guerssen buying half the initial pressing to distribute in Europe, while cassette label Eye Vybe has recently issued a tape edition and Greek label Sound Effect has plans to re-release the album in Summer 2016. Until then, Constantine will continue dreaming, creating and searching for, “…the small gems of beauty that can sometimes be found in life if you [stop] and pay attention.”…………….
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: ….. by Timothy Ferguson…………….
Tracklist A1 (Into The Land) That Time Forgot 2:02 A2 The Trip (Parts I & II) 8:57 A3 Egyptian Days 3:53 A4 Song Of The Seven Willows 1:43 A5 On Through The Ages 3:56 B1 Fountains/Reflections 4:24 B2 Voyage Of The Crystal Bird 4:39 B3 Forest Path 4:37 B4 (Into The Land) That Time Forgot Pt. II 1:19 B5 Rania 6:11 B6 Day Of Light 2:59