Monday, 19 December 2016

Amirtha Kidambi & Elder Ones - Holy Science, album review


On the opening track, a long, sustained soprano saxophone and vocal held note signals but one commitment to the raga-based, harmonium-cored sound of this jazz quartet, both as band and number of tracks on the album.

The vocalisations are unworded sung sounds that have the aural equivalent of an exotic language. They are not really mantras because of the variations, the ups and downs in the melodic lines, as well as the jazz vocalisations at times which seem to step outside the conventions of a mantra. It isn’t scatting. I don’t think.

Though it is on second track Treta Yuga, scatting that is [I often review as I listen, so it can be a malleable walk through – less harmonium on this track, for example, though more evident near end], the scat and sax dueting adventurously lively. And mentioning the track name, this relates to Yuga in Hinduism as an epoch or era within a four age cycle, so the ‘quartet’ having even further significance than mentioned in passing above, and the four tracks on the album are therefore titled: Satya Yuga – the age of truth and perfection; Treta Yuga – in this age, virtue diminishes slightly; Dvapara Yuga – in this age, people become tainted with Tamasic qualities and aren't as strong as their ancestors; Kali Yuga – the age of darkness and ignorance, [thanks to Wikipedia, and I trust this is accurate as a snapshot]. There is an element of Terry Riley’s Rainbow… set as recurring rhythm in this second track.

Third Dvapara Yuga is a sparser, more sporadic number, and closer Kali Yuga returns to the harmonium-cored playing of the first, working into a frenzy of Amirtha Kidambi screams and Matt Nelson sax shrieks. This is wild and wonderful. Where a mantra is a chant to aid concentration, these are bursts of rant to aid disorientation within whatever calm we might ty to intermittently achieve. So, this is a musical as well as otherly experience. 

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