Taroist CD by Allan Armstrong
Review by Diane Wilkes

You can't tell it from the scan, but the individual bedecked in the long gown who graces this CD cover art is, in fact, male. Perhaps this is because, according to the liner notes, this cd contains "[w]ords of wisdom from a storyteller traditionally veiled in a feminine appearance symbolizing the union between male and female." I'm not sure that traditional astrologers or kabbalists dressed in drag, but as Dennis Miller always said, "I could be wrong."

I am, however, quite the CD connoisseur--over 3,000 of the silver disks have invaded our none-too-large apartment. And I can tell you that Allan Armstrong, the creator and star of this cd, doesn't have the most commanding vocal style I've ever heard. He has a charming accent, but that can only take him so far. The lack of audio quality is obvious and distracting--there is a 16 second crackling that begins the cd, after which we are treated to some non-proficient harmonica playing. Then Armstrong begins his discourse on the Wands, as seen through an astrological lens. He begins with the Ace, then moves to the Court (King to Page), and then runs the gamut of the Two to the Ten, addressing the card's planetary attribution and then a sentence or two interpretation. These  interpretations are occasionally entertaining, but despite acknowledging G.D. attributions, Armstrong's take is not always traditional.

The Queen of Wands is described as one who is "kind, practical, and sympathetic and tells us we must be able to adapt to our situation." After attributing Saturn in Sagittarius to the Ten of Wands, Armstrong lets us know that the light at the end of the tunnel in the Nine "turns out to be an oncoming train. Oh well--shit happens."

The instrumentation for Water (the Cups) includes a harmonica and some cawing instrument I don't recognize. The order is the same (Ace, Courts, Two through Ten), as it is for all the suits/elements. Bagpipes are the instrument chosen to accompany the recitation on the Swords, perhaps because breath and air are so intrinsically part of that instrument. But wait--that also applies to the harmonica, so it could just be that the accompaniment is not all that symbolic.

Based on the interpretations, Armstrong is using Crowley's Thoth as inspiration, but that information is not expressly stated on the cd. While Armstrong offers an occasional smile or insight, this cd is not a listening treat. The sound quality is abysmal, the instrumentation annoying and discordant, and the information provided is extremely brief and basic. The Princess of Cups "can make your dreams come true." The Ace of Swords is "a sign of wisdom, authority and determination. It is the unnatural creation of the mixed elements of wind and rain." This is not particularly provocative or profound.

The last track is entitled "The Tree of Life." This piece is a rundown of the Major Arcana, with the astrological attributions and a short commentary. Armstrong begins with The Magician, devoting less than a minute to each of the Majors, which he refers to as "visions." Again, we have the bagpipes and harmonica. A typical entry is The Lovers: "Gemini. Cupid and his arrow of unity which will fuse the male and female into one androgynous soul. Extremes balanced in perfect harmony, it represents the relationship both within and without." Unfortunately, Armstrong miscues verbally at the beginning; hence, we get the "Sick Vision" instead of the Sixth Vision. Kinda ruins the moment. The description of the thirteenth vision, Death, is actually rather gross: "The grim reaper has called and left XII to drink of  the blood and feast on the flesh of sacrifice." Yuck. I'd rather greet the oncoming train.

While this production is exceedingly amateurish, I have no doubt the artist is sincere and knowledgeable. However, I cannot recommend this cd in good conscience, as I think it is badly produced, difficult to listen to, and doesn't offer much of substance. Your mileage may vary, as Michele Jackson often wrote in her reviews.

You can order and/or read much more positive reviews of the Taroist cd here.

Review and page 2002 Diane Wilkes