December 5, 2021
The cross-cultural pollination of musical styles can often create whole new musical experiences. One can see this as the case in the historical development of Western music's exposure to Eastern and African music that slowly grows throughout the past century. In Eastern music, we have an equally diverse gamut of styles and musical approaches. These can be quite stark stylistically, but more often than not, one can also discover threads that reveal a closer unity between different musics. That sort of discovery is at the heart of Ansonica Record's new release, Re / Semblance: Saath-Saath (Ansonica Records AR 0016).
Indian and Chinese musicians collaborated on this new release that found them experiencing theire respective musical traditions in new locations. Disc one features several pieces that explore folk music and Hindustani styles blending both Indian and Chinese instruments against lyrics by both Indian artists and those sung in Mandarin. The music also explores raga musical construction as well. The songs have a more Indian musical feel, especially the long lyrical vocal lines with their ethereal pitch bends and inflections. Disc one was recorded in Shanghai and brought some of these unique texts and performance approaches to the region that would also perhaps hear their own ancient musical heritage in the resulting pieces. Disc Two heads to Hong Kong for a collection of songs that are based on texts by the Cantonese writer Chow Yui-Fai. The pieces here also include new melodies that are being adapted to this poetry. The music also continues this blend of Hindustani raga and styles using these texts which blurs the distinction between "where" this music comes from at its heart. There is the primary lesson of this release: allowing us to see one another in each other's music.
This is a really stunning recording with really beautiful singing to be discovered. The approach helps lend a gentle, lyrical entry into this global music. The album is easily recommendable for the curious and those interested in the merging of musical styles and approaches.