Mia Doi Todd put out a marvelous CD last year (here), a quiet collection of thoughtfully emotional songs, and she's presently working on a new cycle, but, while pursuing the latter, decided to concentrate on the instrumental aspect of her work in a mostly solo context (Andres Renteria joining on two cuts), the harmonium her touchstone, raga and eclectica her modes of choice. This turns out to be both good and not-so-good.
Drone music is not for everybody, and Morning Music is based in drone and free improv. The harmonium was constructed for drones, which is why Nico loved it. Carnatic music wallows in dronery, what with tanpura rhythm sections and such, and thus the raga aspects are perfectly appropriate. Terry Riley made a whole revolution around the hypnotic swirls of the mode. Harmonium One is pure drone and not entirely successful in engaging the ear, so Todd expands out a bit in the follower, Arise, a much more complex and arresting cut, adding piano in somewhat Eno-esque fashion (Music for Airports), building the cut to an irresistably loose promontory, where it remains exploratory and fascinating.
Samai'i, however, is too much a collision of mis-matching timbres, styles, and currents, somewhat like a mellow version of what Amon Duul II was experimenting with in their initial LPs and not always succeeding. Electrafficbirds One starts out hesitantly, then finds its voice but is really a prelude for Simple Things, which has a much more psychedelic side returning to the Eno-ey chance encounters in morphing base, relaxing while reaching further and further out, Rileyisms eventually arising.
Emotion returns to Samai'i, almost becoming a full-fldged song in the guitar base but still too mismatched throughout. That leaves Electrafficbirds Two to close the set, satisfyingly reprising the hazy atmospheres of its predecessor and extending the notions and essences propounded there..…and making this collection a mostly-on but also-off set of experimentations.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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