News Note: Veteran artist PJ Harvey returns in 2016 with a new record documenting a unique artistic journey, which took her to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. The album was recorded during a month-long, open to the public “Recording in Progress” residency at London arts and cultural center Somerset House. Audiences were given the opportunity to observe Harvey at work with her band and producers in a custom-built studio. This will be Harvey's ninth recording. The new album follows 2011’s Let England Shake, the record that made PJ Harvey the only artist to be awarded the Mercury Prize twice (the previous win being for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea in 2001.
(News Notes are edited press releases sent by publicists, labels, bands, or musicians)
By Samir Shukla
Sunny Jain is a drummer/dhol player who has led the fabulous 8-piece “dhol & brass” band Red Baarat for several years. On the new recording Parallel he teams with vocalist Samita Sinha and guitarist Grey McMurray to form the experimental music trio Tongues in Trees. Each member brings a unique composition and they combine them into an eclectic sound. The album is a new musical universe of genres gone askew, with Indian percussion, electronica, dream pop, chanting, and jazzy interplay.
There are 11 tracks on Parallel. Highlights include the aptly named song “Hurricane.” The song builds tempo and disintegrates into a mélange of noise, lovely and disturbing, then circles around to a meditative end. Jain’s pounding drums form the backdrop for Sinha to chant over and McMurray to weave his guitar in and out.
“Voltage” is dissonant, where the trio spars with each other in improvised bursts. The song channels the Velvet Underground, where imagine if Lou Reed on guitar and Mo Tucker on drums play off and around each other, but in this case it’s McMurray on guitar and Jain on drums.
The song “The Day is Respite from what’s Only Night” features laughter as vocals, an ode to eccentric music making.
“Love Letter” is quite mood-evoking, musical and lingering. It’s a floating take on an old Sun Ra and His Arkestra tune. It’s quite warm and intimate in its sparseness.
The rest of the tracks add to an intriguing recording.
By Samir Shukla
The bansuri evokes a lovely morning on the opening track “Adrift,” while the sarangi adds to the reflective mood. These instruments, along with santoor and tabla, form the backdrop for sitar player Shujaat Husain Khan and vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi to weave their music in the recording Ruby. The album is a blend of North Indian classical music and Persian poetry. It feels like a natural juncture. Hindustani music swirling around Persian poetry isn’t so far-fetched as both cultures have influenced each other over the centuries.
In Ruby, Iranian-born vocalist Goudarzi and Indian sitar player Khan collaborate to bring music and sinewy vocals to the Persian poet Rumi’s works. There are five tracks on the album. Each creates a different mood, either ethereal, earthy, or exotic.
Goudarzi prepared the text and translated it for Khan, he then composed music for it. Even if you don’t speak understand the words, they naturally blend with the music.
Khan has a long pedigree and is a leading sitar player in Hindustani music. He hails from a family of stalwart musicians going back several generations. He belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana of the sitar and his style of playing sitar, known as the gayaki ang, channels the subtleties of the human voice.
Goudarzi is also a veteran performer. The duo has worked together in the past and those efforts have now culminated in this fully-developed recording. There’s a flowing spirituality throughout, with a serene sense of place when the sitar casts its spell and Goudarzi sings while the tabla holds up the rhythmic backdrop. Khan on occasion plays the sitar like a guitar, with short riff-like notes.
Both have recorded and performed with varied musicians and in the realms of world music, jazz, and even opera.