Hera: Where My Complete Beloved Is (2011)
It may be symbolic that the albums of the innovative Polish ensemble Hera are released by the label Multikulti. After all, the label's name follows Don Cherry's all-embracing vision of a new world music, a vision where distant and foreign traditions enrich each other, artificial genre distinctions and geographical boundaries are blurred, and stereotypical divisions between high and low, and ancient and modern art are unknown. Headed by composer and reed player Wacław Zimpel, Hera takes Cherry's concept even further on Where My Complete Beloved Is, the band's sophomore release.
The four compositions, all titled after the poem of the mystic Indian poet Kabir, "Abode of the Beloved," emphasize folk elements with their unique use of folk instruments. However, these motives are woven within rich and colorful textures that reference jazz and contemporary music in its most spiritual and free articulations.
The first piece, "In that place there is no happiness or unhappines," is composed by Zimpel, who plays the harmonium here. He employs the instrument in a manner similar to its use in the South Asian devotional Sufi music, Qawwali, setting a peaceful, hypnotic pulse as in the ensembles of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. There are also similarities in pianist Myra Melford drone use of the harmonium. Bassist Ksawery Wójciński and tenor saxophonist Paweł Posteremczak thicken this irresistible, meditative groove with passionate playing.
The ensemble-composed "No truth or untruth" features Zimpel on Slovakian overtone flute and Posteremczak on the trembita, a wooden Ukrainian alpine horn. They dance around imaginative, spare, shamanistic drumming by Paweł Szpura. This folksy dance evolves beautifully when bassist Wójciński joins, solidifying its mesmerizing spiritual rhythm. "Neither sin or virtue," with a hypnotic drone from Sara Kałużna's tempura, evokes the spiritual jazz suites of Alice Coltrane, but this ensemble-composed theme sounds much more elementary. Slowly, it gains more facets. Ceremonial percussive rattling and poetic bowing on the bass gel into a mesmerizing pulse. Zimpel and Posteremczak (on clarinet and soprano sax, respectively) join and improvise on the arresting, gentle dance, mirroring each other's repetitive gestures. The pulse gains more intensity and power until its cathartic release.
Where My Complete Beloved Is concludes with a traditional Russian folk song, "There is no day or night, no moon or sun," sung majestically by Maniucha Bikont. Zimpel's accompaniment on the harmonium, along with Posteremczak on the tarogato, suggests authentic, exotic, Eastern European sounds. Hera's magical sound world offers a unique way to experience music. Their music resonates with myriad cultures, deep feelings and expressive improvised playing.
Track Listing: In that place there is no happiness or unhappines; No truth or untruth; Neither sin or virtue; There is no day or night, no moon or sun.
Personnel: Wacław Zimpel: clarinet, bass clarinet, harmonium, tarogato, Slovakian overtone flute; Paweł Posteremczak: soprano and tenor saxophones, prepared piano, trembita; Ksawery Wójciński: double bass; Paweł Szpura: drums, percussion; Maniucha Bikont: voice (4) Sara Kałużna: tampura (3).
Record Label: Multikulti Project