Omar Carmenates: The Gaia Theory (Rattle)

 |   |  1 min read

Omar Carmenates: Waiting: Still
Omar Carmenates: The Gaia Theory (Rattle)

At its most extreme interpretation (as some have joking applied it), the Giaia theory which contends all life on Earth is interconnected says if a butterfly flaps its wings in China there may be a tornado in Kansas some time later.

Okay, that is ridiculously extreme but the principles of interconnectivity would seem to be becoming more and more apparent as species die out and others (their predators or food source) inevitably also suffer. Get rid of all but the most domesticated of cats in New Zealand for example, and mice and rats might flourish as much as native birds so . . .

American composer and associate professor of music in South Carolina uses the broad notion of Gaia/interconnecivity as applied to music for this quietly intense and beautfully produced (and packaged) album where perhaps the thread which links all of Mankind on a musical level is rhythm.

These eight pieces (two versions of New Zealand composer John Psathas' Waiting: Still, dedicated to Jack Body) have at their core percussion ensembles of varying sizes ( from solo to quartet) as well as marimba, gamelan, tuned flowerpots (a la Stephan Micus) and electronically generated rhythms.

Some of these seem hypnotically  simple and improvised (. . . folded . . . by American composer Brian Nozny, for solo marimba and percussion quartet) but also have an almost intense mathematical structure. Others have a driving intensity like you've arrived at the middle of jazz drummer's solo spot and all the mates have dropped by to add their ideas (Psathas' 4BY4 for percussion quartet).

About Waiting: Still, Psathas says he had been encouraged by Body to join the university's gamelan orchestra but he declined. This new piece -- based on a pattern from his earlier Waiting for the Aeroplane which appeared on Rattle's Rhythm Spike album of '99 --  now brings the mesmerising sound of gamelan into play on a piece which is weightless yet full of emotional resonance.

Immediately after is the much more earthy Scavenger's Footprints by American composer Christopher Deane which uses found percussion (junkyard stuff in some instances) and then there is vibraphone and tuned flowerpots on David Skidmore's spacious and delicate Requiem; MVT 1.

So even though this might seem to be a limited palette of instruments, they way they are applied in these diverse, melodic and often very beguiling pieces -- Christopher Adler's 20 minute Once in a Grove of Tamarisk is delightful --  makes for an album that offers constant and gentle surprises.

And, perhaps true to the Gaia ethic, all seem somehow related. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Grand Archives:  The Grand Archive (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

Grand Archives: The Grand Archive (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

There are albums which, if you never hear, you probably can ignore and live happily without. For those who hear them however they become a private passion. I can't imagine my life without a... > Read more

Eliza Gilkyson: Beautiful World (Red House/Elite)

Eliza Gilkyson: Beautiful World (Red House/Elite)

Given the tone of some of the 11 songs here -- political disillution, desperate love, a song called The Party's Over and one about the inevitability of the Great Correction -- you'd have to assume... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

SCENES FROM A REVOLUTION by MARK HARRIS: He not busy being born is busy dying.

SCENES FROM A REVOLUTION by MARK HARRIS: He not busy being born is busy dying.

That film is a collaborative art is accepted, but it can also be a war of attrition where inflated egos collide at the interface of culture and commerce. And in Hollywood where the stakes -- money,... > Read more

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOURS by TONY BRAMWELL: Not only a northern song

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOURS by TONY BRAMWELL: Not only a northern song

Tony Bramwell -- who sounds like great man to have a martini with -- has had an extrordinary life, and not just because he was a childhood friend of the Beatles, became their manager Brian... > Read more