Last year's Personae
was a fusion powerhouse, laying creative waste to all in its way. Not content to rest on his muse, über
-bassist Jonas Hellborg has set out after the polyphonic and polyrhythmic music of India. Hellborg and long term collaborator Shawn Lane apply their synthetic method, meshing East and West with Indian vocalist V. Umamahesh and two percussionists, V. Selvaganesh and V. Umashankarwho play the ghatam
and the kanjeera,
two types of hand drums used in the Southern Indian musical tradition.
The results of this union are four lengthy ruminations (save the last) that beautifully combine the chant-like droning of Hindustani music with the consonance and resolution of western music. Rhythmically and harmonically sophisticated, Hellborg and Lane navigate their way deftly around the nooks and crannies of the Indian musical psyche. Both string players bristle with ideas and make use of fluid musical technique to express them cogently.
In the same way that the movie Victor Victoria was a gender bender, Icon is an ethnic bender, proving that music is music and traditions can be successfully combined and artfully executed.