Our New Earth
(2019- Moonjune Records - USA)
Am immense global fusion of both earthly delights and beyond this world intrepid explorations. From the peak highs of Flora Purim, Azimuth (with John Taylor and Norma Winstone), sacred middle eastern, South Indian music (Asaf performs a vocal percussive style called konnakol), Polish folk, classical, to the most adventurous ECM, even some Canterbury jazz at the end, and high cliff jumps in supreme composition and interplay, it all occurs among these four artists. Almost too good for words.
A 2 disc concept project that tackles the present condition of our world, with all its illness, and the invitation of Sirkis/Bialas IQ to enter their new world, to temporarily escape that seemingly hopeless earth. However, the band's real wish is for people to take a new look, a more active role, in trying to better our planet and thus make a 'new earth'. If I say it simple, it is because this topic need not be complex or with intellectual words, it just needs to be clear to every human, one all all.
The broad elements and instrumentation of this 2nd release by the group is far more reaching and with greater adventure. Sylwia Bialas (lead and backing vocals, waterphone) takes both her wordless and often exotic vocals to new places, being an instrument and brush stroke alternately. Her love for Nordic folk, overtone singing, and many world genres allow a kaleidoscope of colors to happen. Asaf Sirkis (drums, percussion, frame drums, crotales, konnakol) has never sounded better, and he captures all the nuances and emphasis with his drum kit and percussives with brilliance. Although providing exquisite framework, Frank Harrison (piano, organ, various other keyboards) and Kevin Glasgow (6 string electric bass) give absolute foundation and vigor to the excellence on 'Our New Earth'. With 'Reminiscence' (track #4/Side 1), Sirkis gets to showcase some drum solo work with grand finesse. All musicians show mastery of their craft and this new vision provides an extraordinary stage to journey new ideas, trespass old norms, and allow their thirsty ruminations to flourish.
Two platters of music may challenge the quick sound byte generations, however this listener stayed bewitched moment by moment, as I witnessed wonder in this clear-sighted musical stimulation. The acuity of it all, the sheen, the well developed theme, the depth and the presence all give 100% gratification. A luscious 11 compositions that will saturate your sense and perhaps give hope to the hopelessness that chokes our world of humanity and belief. Speaking with Sylwia and Asaf (who I have been familiar with for some years), they not only are genuinely nice and personable people, but leave their egos at the door when making music. Same as all the members do here. One can actually hear and perceive the equality in the studio, and in the execution of each part. Tracks 2,3,7,8,9 & 11 were composed by Asaf Sirkis, and tracks 1,4,6 & 10 were written by Sylwia Bialas, who also did all lyrics and vocal arrangements. All arrangements of the music were done by Sirkis and Bialas, who also produced the album. Special mention to Leonardo Pavkovic of Moonjune Records for executive production.
The 2nd side (2nd disc) continues the conception and enigmatic progression. The forces stay positive and foster additional aesthetic order. The instrumentation expands and the title cut 'Our New Earth' is where the South Indian music is huge, with Asaf using the konnakol style rhythmic voice, along with frame drum, other exotic percussion, all backed by a sitar loop. Then more development takes things to a church organ and the arrangement results in a totally amazing creation. Big energy is injected, a bigger plateau is approached and conquered. A world fusion stunner and a climax to remember, as each musician goes beyond and elsewhere. It is the most extended piece (11:17) on the double album, and in it, things get sacred, celestial, and totally stellar. The music takes you into a rare orbit, to which you may never want to come down from. This alone is worthy of the term epic if there ever was one. A composition with majestic moments and cavernous atmosphere, prized fusion, and breezy voice lifted passage.
Anyone who only spot checks this project, or just listens to Disc 1, will surely miss one the best summits of the recording. A most enchanting release and peerless at this point. The physical 6 panel 2 CD format comes with booklet, and beautiful art on digi-pak as well as the two discs, all done by Sylwia Bialas. Give thanks for this band and their output. Phenomenal! So deep in cerebral bath, brain cell multiplication and just pure eargasm, it is salient. An album of the highest professionalism, most tasteful and thoughtful performance, gifted composing, and utterly gripping listening experience. This is not only a new earth, but a new universe that Sirkis/Bialas IQ have created. A MASSIVE RECOMMENDATION.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 11 - 18 - 2019