Multi-instrumentalist and composer Michael Robinson utilizes a unique amalgam of acoustic and digital technology to create captivating sonic tapestries. His genre-defying pieces are crafted with the rigour of a classicist yet they brim with a dynamic jazzy spontaneity and eastern mysticism. On his fourth 2020 release, Lotus-Pollen, Robinson performs four kaleidoscopic and mesmerizing originals, each with its own distinct captivating pattern.
As with his previous work of past years, Robinson draws inspiration from the Indian musical tradition. "Second Alap," for instance, takes its name from the improvised introduction to ragas. It is a serene, logically progressing melody which meanders over a backdrop of shimmering chimes. The ambience is somber yet peaceful, dark yet meditative. The rolling scales that sometimes increase in tempo for brief moments are reminiscent of sacred hymns.
The other three tracks are gats, fixed compositions that are usually performed with the accompaniment of measured refrains and come in three different tempos. Robinson unfurls the "Vilambit Gat," the slowest of the three, over the sounds of south Asian tabla. The main theme flows with a surefooted exuberance and steady, sinewy phrases over the rumbling beats concluding on a high note. The brightly hued atmosphere is filled with infectious joy.
"Madhya Gat," the tune with a medium cadence, has a celebratory tone and is also, on the surface, more riotous. Yet there is a beautiful symmetry to its vibrant and intricate construct, almost like a crystalline structure that reflects and delightfully distorts the dancing of flames on its angular surfaces.
Finally, "Drut Gat," is the fastest among the three and it is the most angst-filled with an expectant mood. Overlapping percussive elements meld with fragments of drones resulting in a stimulating urgency. Galloping rhythms collide with resonant thuds and thrums resulting in a passionate and soulful call and response.
As expected Robinson has produced, yet again, an intelligent album of spiritual and emotive depth. Its enthralling textures and soothing harmonies make it a rewarding listening experience time and time again.
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