Let's be honest, this extraordinary recording isn't going to float everyone's boat. However, there are a lot of highly praiseworthy elements to be assimilated in this hour long CD. Dave Soldier (real name Dr. Dave Sulzer, a neuroscientist at Columbia University) has assembled an avant-garde jazz opera based on the oldest known musical score (the 8th hour of the book of the Amduat) the hieroglyphics of which have been translated into Italian by Egyptologist Professor Ritat Lucarrelli. Each of the main protagonists additionally represents a character in the opera, so for example mezzosoprano Sahoko Sato Timpone is also Mistress of the Boat.
Saxophonist Marshall Allen who has led Sun Ra's Arkestra since John Gilmore's death in 1995 becomes Sun Ra (a tautological name for the Egyptian God of the Sun) and his former boss's moniker. Canadian born violinist Rebecca Cherry demonstrates her exceptional soloing talent on "Netherworld Cavern" and "Tomb Of The Gods Cavern" and avant-garde guitarist Nick Millevoi is heard soloing on "Satisfying Her Lord & Mysterious Caverns," "Knives At War" and "Great Of Torches Cavern." Similarly, nonagenarian Marshall Allen is still producing blistering solos both on alto and EVI, as heard on six of the tracks including "Mourning And She Who Annihilates The Ignorant Caverns," "Envelopes Her Images & Uniting Darkness Caverns," "Removing Her Ba-Souls Cavern" and "Ra Dances With Rams."
It's difficult to put into a few words exactly what this record emulates, it might well be that it doesn't sound like anything else, ever. But it could certainly represent something of a mélange of say Frank Zappa, Luciano Berio, John Zorn, György Ligeti and of course, Sun Ra's Arkestra. However, the instrumentation and arrangements are both imaginative and at times brilliant. The subtle use of harp for example is intelligent and effective, as is the sporadic deployment of the choir. There are also a myriad of sound effects interspersed throughout the opera which act as a sort of sonic glue, binding the various pieces together. This is not a work to be regarded lightly but rather it's a brave and bold contemporary composition ironically based on the very oldest one.
Track Listing: Mistress Prayer; Satisfying Her Lord & Mysterious Caverns; Tower’s
Prayer; Netherworld Cavern; Tomb Of The Gods Cavern; Baracolle;
Knives At War; Mourning And She Who Annihilates The Ignorant
Caverns; Ra Calls The Rams; Envelopes Her Images & Uniting Darkness
Caverns; Removing Her Ba-Souls Cavern; Ra Dances With Rams; Great
Of Torches Cavern; Dawn March.
Personnel: Dave Soldier: composer, water bowls, electronics; Sahoko Sato
Timpone: mezzosoprano vocals; Marshall Allen: alto saxophone,
electronic valve instrument (EVI); Rebecca Cherry, Akhmed Manedov,
Juana Pinilla Paez: violin; Olivia Gusmano: viola; Carolina Diazgronados:
cello; Dani Bash: harp; Dan Blacksberg: trombone; Nick Millevoi: guitar;
Michael Winograd: clarinet; Enrique Rivera-Matos: tuba; Anthony di
Bartolo, Thomas Kolakowski: percussion; Chace Simmonds-Frith,
Natasha Thweatt, Sophie Laruelle, Xioming Tian, Eugene Sirotkine, Alicia
Waller, Melinda Learnard: choir; Rita Lucarelli: translator.