World/am­bi­ent

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hillier

Trans­par­ent Wa­ter Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita Ota Records/World Vil­lage The seam­less strains cre­ated by pro­lific Cuban com­poser and jazz pi­anist Omar Sosa with Sene­galese mu­si­cian Seckou Keita and other cos­mopoli­tan new col­lab­o­ra­tors in his lat­est cross-cul­tural project beg to be ab­sorbed in a hor­i­zon­tal po­si­tion, prefer­ably with the blinds drawn. No dis­par­age­ment is in­tended. As the ti­tle might sug­gest, it’s the kind of al­bum that in past pre-down­load decades would have been filed in the New Age racks of record stores.

Fear not: Trans­par­ent Wa­ter is the an­tithe­sis of au­ral wall­pa­per of yore. In­deed, it is a quite ex­quis­ite col­lab­o­ra­tion that unites a unique com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional in­stru­ments with Sosa’s so­phis­ti­cated pi­ano play­ing — Keita’s West African kora harp and drums (djembe, sabar, tama), Latin per­cus­sion (bata, clave, guat­aca, cal­abaza, mara­cas), Chi­nese wind in­stru­ments (sheng and bawu) and Ja­panese and Korean zithers (koto and ge­o­mungo).

Keita’s smooth vo­cal cords would soothe the most sav­age breast in med­i­ta­tive tracks such as Black Dream and An­other Prayer. In Fati­liku, a com­par­a­tively up-tempo Latin-es­que piece spiced with a re­peated quote from a fa­mous Cuban song ( El Manis­ero/The Peanut Ven­dor), the Sene­galese’s singing is more soul­ful than spir­i­tual. Sosa shines when his pi­ano play­ing crosses to jazz­ier and blue­sier plains, as in Darry and Peace Keep­ing.

Else­where, kora, key­board and koto blend in­ex­tri­ca­bly — most no­tably on Min­ing-Nahn and Thios­sane. Avian ef­fects em­bel­lish In the For­est. Af­ter a som­bre start in which solo sheng evokes Asian am­bi­ence, Moro Yeye melts into a sub­dued chant and Latin pi­ano pulse. Pul­sat­ing per­cus­sion un­der­pins the de­li­ciously melodic and rhyth­mic Tama-Tama.

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