Week 18 of 2018… This week half awesome, half sick and tired.
-Ted Hearne (again)
Nitin Sawhney - Various Albums
Remember how I said I was hoping this project would be a rabbit-hole generator? This was a good week for that, and it started out with Nitin Sawhney, likely the most consummate example of multicultural fusion done right that I’ve heard since that one time Anoushka Shankar, Herbie Hancock, and Chaka Khan did this gem.
See, what did I tell you? Now I feel like listening to all those artists! So many musicians worth being excited about and we've barely started. Back to Nitin Sawhney - you’re welcome for pointing out another person that has done nothing but brilliant work and collaborated with tons of top tier musicians, and yet is for some reason not nearly as much a household name (at least for me he wasn’t).
I listened to 10 of his albums this week, and while I found gems on every single one, my favorite album by far was the very one that Ed recommended to me a year ago, before I’d ever heard of him: Last Days of Meaning, released in 2011. It's basically it's own mix tape, and like most of his other stuff, a mix of Indian Classical Music, Flamenco, Alternative, Jazz, Soul, Folk, and whatever else...
Here’s one more from the album just to show you more, but, unlike the rest of my report on Sawhney, YOU MUST SIT DOWN AND LISTEN TO THE ALBUM TOP TO BOTTOM. Just do it. With headphones.
There are lots of other Nitin Sawhney tracks I plucked out of those 10 albums in the full playlist, but I will leave these two here, not just because they are both brilliant and gorgeous, but because they make me want to listen in so many different directions after this.
After listening to Sawhney all week, now I feel like listening to a lot more Indian Classical, maybe some Anoushka, maybe go north a bit and listen to Abida Parveen, or wierd and relisten to Nina Haugen’s devotionals. OR more fusion… Chic Corea? Hiromi? Or more Spanish / Portuguese Jazz! SO MUCH!
It’s times like this I appreciate Ed’s remarkably good taste in music. He's the reason I know half those people exist.
Caroline Shaw - To the Hands (2016)
Armando Bayolo is among the cast of characters… He directs the Great Noise Ensemble in DC, making both him and his ensemble items on my list of music I want to explore and listen to. But for today, he’s also important because he introduced me to this piece, since we may be collaborating on a performance of it next year with our respective ensembles.
The work is a compositional response to Buxtehude’s Jesu Membra Nostri, which is a cycle of 7 small cantatas, each addressed to a different part of Christ's crucified body (feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart, and face) “How very Lenten!,” I exclaimed... Here's a tip (especially if you've never heard the Buxtehude, like me) Put on the Buxtehude in the background of your life for like 3 days (in the car, on the pc while you are doing mindless work, on the stereo while doing chores) and don’t pay much attention to it. Then, set aside the 30 min for Shaw’s whole work, with headphones.
[thought to self: hmmm... this would be really cool to thematically connect 2 concerts in one season]
Read more about the work HERE- it’s really conceptually interesting, even past the recycle aspect…
Ted Hearne - Outlanders (2016)
I hate this album... I cannot stop listening to it.
Seriously, half the tracks made me uncomfortable and irritated (which to me immediately makes me happy because it AFFECTED me). I gave it a second listen and everything got worse, I was yelling in the car "I HATE IT. KILL IT." By the end of the week, I couldn't believe how much I was into it. Here's one of the more immediately accessible ones, just to pique your interest - I feel like this is what it would sound like if you threw a bunch of Björk LPs in a wood-chipper and then pieced together a new single (that's a compliment to Björk, btw)...
This one make me thing of having a panic attack inside of an MRI machine... it's the most unsettling music I've heard since listening to Todd Machover's "Famine"... If you don't know me by now, you'll soon realize descriptions like that are "GOOD" in my book.
This one is a great example of one I had to come around to... At first it just washed by me, didn't connect, then became somewhat irritating. In hindsight I think that was because I couldn't categorize it... It's simple, but deceptive and sometimes demented, then beautiful, then lackluster and heavy...
So… ya, this was not immediately accessible to me… and I literally do this in order to expand my perspective, like I’m open to having my mind changed. And it has been, almost. I still don’t like it, but I honestly can’t wait to listen to it again. It’s very much unafraid to be itself. Apparently all kinds of cool people worked on the project, which he described as “They're mostly love songs. And they're a record of the ways I was working through the tensions between compositional hybridity and clear, direct songwriting.” Also listed were Timo Andres (who is on my list) and Caroline Shaw (see above), which, in true rabbit-hole fashion, makes me want to look up everyone else he worked with. He's not an easy listen, but certainly worthwhile.
Onward we go then.
Listen to these and more with the full playlist of my favorites from these albums (click on the image below to head to YouTube)