Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Extraordinary Vocal Music of Baird Hersey II: Prana with Krishna Das

The cultural heritage of chant and devotion song in South Asia is rich and has a long history. Vedic chant goes back many centuries. The qawwali of the Pakistan region and bhajan of India are art musics with exceptional melodic and vocal interest. All this has something to do with the CD on the changer his morning, Baird Hersey and Parana with Krishna Das performing Gathering in the Light (Satsang).

First of all, the principal melody lines, sung with feeling and style by Krishna Das, are straightforward devotional chant sorts of things, something like what the Krishna devotees here in the US used to sing in airports, malls and just about anywhere a few years ago, only these are musically more varied and substantial. They are set off and vitalized by the wordless vocal accompaniment of Prana and various percussionists working mostly with South Indian instruments, such as the tabla.

What Baird Hersey and Prana do is meld with Krishna Das's vocals and extend the music through drones, primal intervalic harmonies and the incorporation of overtone singing to the choral sound tapestry.

The music is beautiful--elemental, yet deeply expressive. It is the sort of thing that will uplift your mood, I would think, regardless of what it might be on any particular day or hour. Baird's vocal overtone instrument has a fullness and resonance that brings much to the overall sound.

It is music that is of the world. It has ambiance, contemporary classical color, South Asian depth, and manages to take steps beyond any or all of these stylistic categories. Give this one a serious listen and I believe you will find you will want to hear it again. And perhaps again. And perhaps. . .

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