Various Artists - Weavings Music Album Reviews

Various Artists - Weavings Music Album Reviews
Nicolás Jaar’s collaborative project for the 2020 Unsound Festival gathers Angel Bat Dawid, Laraaji, Senyawa, and a dozen more artists in a pensive, shapeshifting piece of pandemic-era live improvisation.

By the time Krakow’s Unsound Festival launched a special online-only pandemic edition of its annual event, in September 2020, livestreams were old hat. Sitting in front of our computers and passively absorbing a two-dimensional, unidirectional broadcast shared only with our Twitter feed and a few carefully vetted fellow bubble members—roommate, spouse, house pet—was not a terribly engrossing way to experience a performance, it turned out. If this was live music, why did we feel so dead inside?

Still, musicians craved an audience. More than that, would-be collaborators craved musical company; the virus be damned, they craved shared vibrations in shared air. Nicolás Jaar, whose focus has become increasingly collective in recent years, came up with a solution: a format in which multiple improvisers would play together over the internet, in real time, dialing in from their home studios. In order to impose a sense of order on what could otherwise be chaotic, Jaar devised a novel structure of interwoven duets. Artist A would play with artist B for a predetermined duration; then artist A would drop out and artist C would join artist B. After another interval, artist D would replace artist B, and so on as the piece rolled forward. You might think of the format as a slow-motion square dance or relay race. Or, better still, a loom. Hence the title: Weavings.

Jaar and Unsound curators Mat Schulz and Gosia Plysa recruited a diverse list of collaborators: spiritual-jazz polymath Angel Bat Dawid, new-age multi-instrumentalist Laraaji, oud player Dirar Kalash, clarinetist Paweł Szamburski, cellist Resina, and folk/metal/noise musicians Wukir Suryadi and Rully Shabara (of the Indonesian duo Senyawa), among others. Rather than streaming live—a technologically risky proposition, given the project’s intricacies—the ensemble’s real-time performance was recorded to Jaar’s hard drive in separate channels. He spent the following 24 hours mixing and finessing, and for the next day’s online event, he streamed the finished recording over the web directly from his computer. Ninety-two minutes long, featuring 18 players, including Jaar himself, Weavings is the document of that process.

Despite the ambitious format and crowded virtual bandstand, Weavings is understated. A patient exploration of texture and mood, it incorporates a wide array of voices and styles into a porous, shapeshifting whole. Over the course of its run, it takes in spectral drones, mournful reeds, industrial clanking, and ghostly whispers and wails. Earthbound sounds—the rattle of small objects, the scuttling of insects—are paired with heavenly invocations and streaks of what sounds like pure light, gleaming with cosmic significance. The piece is bookended by group-improv passages featuring most of the players joining together at once, though you wouldn’t necessarily guess it from your ears alone; their restraint is remarkable. They seem to devote as much attention to listening as they do playing.

In the streamed performance, each musician was visible in their own Zoom window, like an experimental-music version of Hollywood Squares. Listening back, however, it’s not always clear who is playing at any given time; foreground and background are in constant flux, as distinctive voices filter to the front and then recede into the mix. Certain themes recur. Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument lays out shimmering pedal tones mirrored in Resina’s bowed cello. Shabara and experimental vocalist Ka Baird contribute guttural chattering noises whose staccato attack and scraped textures are echoed in Aho Ssan’s percussive electronic treatments. Dawid’s introductory vocalizations feel like a calling down of spirits; Juliana Huxtable’s sing-song poetic delivery is a rumination on blood and bruises rendered in fanciful, candy-colored detail. It’s the rare moment where the music points to a referent outside itself, but even here, Huxtable’s hypnotic intonation contributes to Weavings’ immersive pull. What’s most striking over the course of the piece is how many contrasting sounds and motifs can be folded into a form so coherent: Scraped metal, folk melodies, and fevered speaking in tongues all come to seem like they’re cut from the same cloth.

Weavings is—perhaps unsurprisingly, given the context of its creation—a pensive and even melancholy piece of music; its broadly meditative stretches are pocked with the occasional outburst of anxiety, anger, or fear. But there is a palpable sense of shared spirit in the music. It’s not something you can measure or even pinpoint, but you can hear the players joining together in service to a higher purpose. For all its restraint, Weavings feels determined and even celebratory, a declaration of defiance in the face of a microbe that tried to bring the world to a halt. Not two years later, the course of Covid has changed many times over, and it can be hard to remember what life felt like in the pandemic’s first year; some of the impetus for the work has faded from memory, and as a result, its meaning may have changed. But as one crisis has given way to another, now that Putin’s war rages just 160 miles from Krakow, perhaps Weavings takes on new meanings. It remains a powerful reminder that borders are purely notional, as well as a testament to the basic human need to come together in times of adversity. If you’re inclined to think of music in spiritual terms—as a summoning of grace, an invocation of a higher power, or a simple attempt to carve out a foothold for good in the world—you may find Weavings’ implicit message of harmonious union more needed now than ever.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Various Artists - Weavings Music Album Reviews Various Artists - Weavings Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 31, 2022 Rating: 5


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