Paul Avgerinos – Bhakti – RoundSkyMusic RSM 1019, 67:25 [9/5/14] ****:
MEMORU FUJIEDA: Patterns of Plants – Sarah Cahill, piano – Pinna Records PINNA 2 (2 CDs) [9/16/14] ****:
Avgerinos is one of leading creators of New Age music recordings today. He often plays most of the instruments heard on his albums thru over-dubbing and has been Grammy-nominated. Bhaki means love and devotion, and in this album he takes a different tack from previous efforts. He has practiced Bhakti yoga since he was 16 and this CD uses a combination of Eastern and Western musical styles and instruments and has a strong East Indian component. Chanting and singing are added to the instrumental tracks. Averginos was brought up in the Greek Orthodox religion and has been active in a small Christian church.
While the CD was designed for energizing yoga practice, it is also most enjoyable just to listen to, with a quite positive and uplifting feeling to it. His guest performers are heard on sarod, sitar, violin, EWI and contributing some vocal sounds. One may also pick up some “Bollywood” beats. There are 11 tracks and most of the vocals are wordless.
Composer Fujieda worked with a botanist/artist who created a device (the “Plantron”) to measure electrical fluctuations on the surfaces of the leaves of plants. He converted this data into sound using the Max programming system. Then he searched for musical patterns and used them as the basis for his short piano pieces which he grouped into collections something like Baroque dance suites. The double-CD set is the first time this music has been available outside of Japan in a solo piano form.
Pianist Sarah Cahill deals online with the situation of having another Sarah Cahill, who is a blonde winner of beauty contests and had a bit part in the first Iron Man movie, described in detail at Wikipedia, but not her. She is a leading pianist in the San Francisco area specializing in contemporary music for piano, and has been described by the San Francisco Chronicle “as tenacious and committed an advocate as any composer could dream of.” In fact she originally commissioned one of the Fujieda pieces in Patterns of Plants for an “anti-war/pro-peace” project of hers. She has recorded works of Ingram Marshall, Marc Blitzstein, Henry Cowell, Ruth Crawford and Ravel, among others.
The Fujieda pieces reminded me of Gurdjieff’s piano pieces written in collaboration with his pupil Thomas de Hartmann, and based on music he had heard in remote monasteries and other places. They are tonal and quite simple and can be heard as just background music or really listened to for their depth and expressivity. In some ways they are also similar to some of the Satie piano music, but with no influence of the music hall or cafe.
I would include the TrackLists for both albums, but I don’t think they would have much value to readers.