Thursday, November 3, 2016

Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus, Chiaroscuro

Baird Hersey and his pathbreaking vocal group Prana have embarked on a journey to an evolved, highly original kind of pan-world, post-minimal music on the latest, Chiaroscuro (Bent Records BRS9). The group is paired down for this program to just seven singers, Baird as harmonic tenor, plus harmonic baritone, mezzo-soprano, two altos and two bassists. They get an uncanny sound, a little heavier on the bottom end thanks to the lack of a soprano. But this leaves an open space for the upper soundings of harmonic overtones, so there is a full spectrum of ranges nonetheless, and that sound is part of what distinguishes the ensemble in key passages. You must hear it!

For this set they are joined by the talented percussion quartet Nexus, among whom one may well recognize several former members of Reich's ensemble. They play various tuned and untuned instruments, including the remarkable vistaphone, which is a set of chimes tuned to the harmonic overtone series. They pair in eerie fashion with Prana's harmonic tenor and baritone.

Performed here are two suites composed by Baird, "Chiaroscuro" and "Vox Pulsatio." They are extraordinarily striking, beautiful works that give us Prana's spiritually vibrant style mixed with Balinese, Taiko, Buddhist chant, minimalist classic and any manner of other elements.

To describe the music in further detail would not get you any closer to the actual hearing. It is heartening music, both eclectic and extraordinarily original. Yet the roots for it all go back many centuries, perhaps as far back as we all go as conscious, spiritual beings.

It is one hopes one further step out of many more to come from Baird and Prana. Superlatives I could add on surely, but you simply MUST hear this, because there is nothing like it!

My highest praise to all involved! Encore!

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