The Republic of Georgia has been much in the news of late, subjected to no end of mischievous and often criminal actions at the hands of the Russian oligarchs (thanks, capitalism, ya bastid!), so most people's cognizance of the locale is restricted to oppression, turpitude, and intrigue, but there's so much more there when one is willing to investigate matters. Intangible Pearls by Zedashe in fact rescues some ancient gems that were almost vanquished from the culture during the Communist era, artifacts just now unearthed and re-presented for the musicologist's and aficionado's appreciations. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the whole repertoire here is how closely the folk and Christian Liturgical elements work in tandem throughout the disc. But there's a good deal more than even that. This region is very old, able to trace back 8,000 years of history, and this takes us into and well beyond the ancient Khazarian empire, now mysteriously erased from history but a large and powerful nation in its time, boasting a fascinating nexus point and focus of empyrean dreams for Rome, the Turks (even though the Khazars were basically Turkic nomads anyway), and others. In other words, the Georgians have the sort of depth of culture that America and Europe can only wistfully dream of.
Listening to the selections here, one can quite easily discern strains of Gregorian chant, Arabic refrains, Hassid elements, Sufist inflections, and other exotica. What Les Voix Bulgares started, Zedashe stuffs back into the time machine, setting the dial even farther afield. Remember the eerie scenes of that Russian church in the movie The Keep? Well, some of this will put you in mind of that, the film's Tangerine Dream soundtrack to the side, with its earthily cosmic interpolations. It will also dredge from memory the work of Popul Vuh and their adaptations of Mayan and other musics and cultures. In fact, listen to Elesa and try to tell me Christian Vander and Magma weren't under the spell of such compelling work. Ya won't get far on that one, trust me. You'll even find the germ-seeds of Tuva throat-singing—not the form as such but its antecedents and influences, Chakrulo a great example.
Thus, if you're one of those who favors not only strictly ethnic airs but also the progressive works of Third Ear Band, Deuter, Laraaji, and others of the specialist ilk, this is very rare and beautiful material. Frankly, I favor the liturgical songs far more than the folk cuts, though I find cuts like Ierishi to be a riveting cross-blend. Both are traditions unto themselves and deserving of any serious music listener's attention, even at times standing as meditations. Seriously. Empty your thought process out while lending an ear to the devotional tracks, and you'll find yourself in a very gratifying space, may well understand that religion lost a hell of a lot when it departed from spiritual musics like this in favor of modernist fare (are ya listening, Catholics, ya idiots?). Just 'cause we've moved forward doesn't mean we've gotten better, and there's a reason we have the faculty of memory. We're supposed to remember this stuff. It's important.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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