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    Joan La Barbara – Shamansong

    Joan La Barbara - Shamansong

    Joan La Barbara Is an avant-garde composer and vocalist who has been, um, composing and vocalising since the 1970s. Shamansong is a collection of three long atmospheric pieces that each exceed the 20-minute mark. Composed in 1991 but revised in 1998, the title track opens it all up with a film score that follows a woman into a bleak desert. Her breathy vocals meander languidly through the barren landscape accompanied by only an acoustic instrument or two at a time–cello, dumbek, gender, harp, music box, percussion, rainstick, shakuhachi and rattle–plus other elements like crystals, stones, metal rods and more. What it all amounts to is an ultra-restrained exercise in spare subtlety and nature-as-music ritual.

    From 1986, “Rothko” puffs out a super beautiful, hovering mist inspired by a series of 14 color wash paintings in the Rothko Chapel. Derived from bowed piano and layers of chanting voices, this 25-minute slice of sublime, deeply zoned music easily deserves a spot in everyone’s minimal top 25 list. Inspired by Chinese calligraphy, the appropriately titled “Calligraphy II / Shadows” from 1995 employs Chinese instruments like dizi (bamboo flute), erhu (violin), yangqi (hammered dulcimer), percussion and Joan’s singing to effortlessly bridge the gap between traditional Chinese music and quirky American avant-garde. During its 20-minute journey, this piece repeatedly turns on a wooden nickel from odd outbursts full of shrieking, warbling vocals and instrumental pounding to gentle melodies that float carefree on lily pads. Overall, if you’re a fan of refined understatement, I highly recommend this CD.

    Label: New World Records Catalog Number: 80545-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 3 Total Time: 70:01 Country: United States Released: 1998 More: All Music, Amazon, Last.FM, Lovely, Mode, New Albion, New Music Box, Official

    Text ©2010 Arcane Candy

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