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

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

Contemporary classical music -- which often sounds like it comes from "elsewhere" -- sometimes gets a look in at these pages, especially if it is challenging. And this certainly is.... > Read more

IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column which scoops up releases by international artists, in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Mavis Rivers: Farewell Samoa (1950)

Mavis Rivers: Farewell Samoa (1950)

Because her career as singer was mostly in the United States -- where Sinatra apparently called her the purest voice in jazz -- Mavis Rivers was for many decades after 1953, when she made the first... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simon Thacker

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simon Thacker

Scotland's Simon Thacker is one of Elsewhere's kinda people. He plays classical guitar but has his ears wide open to the world and mostly works in cross-cultural contexts with musicians from India.... > Read more