You can trace many movements in modern music back to The Beatles, and they are at the roots of Hans Christian and Harry Manx. Not The Beatles of “She Loves You,” but the eastern-influenced Beatles of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and especially “Within You Without You.” Musicians like the German-born Christian and English-born Manx were inspired by those sounds to head east, although each approached it from a different perspective.
HANS CHRISTIAN is a classically trained cellist whose 1990s albums, Phantoms and Surrender, took his instrument into electronic and ambient terrain. But it was his work with Rasa where he found his true voice, partly inspired by George Harrison’s recording of devotional chants from the Radha Krsna Temple. He’d become expert on the Indian sarangi, the Swedish nyckelharpe and the sitara, and he curved the sounds of these instruments into yearning melodies, wrapped them up in electronica atmospheres, and caressed the voice of his partner, singer Kim Waters. Rasa broke up, but Christian contines that sound, sans Hindu chants, on You Are the Music of My Silence.
HARRY MANX joins Christian, singing, playing guitars and the Indian lap guitar called the Mohan Vina. He went east through the The Beatles and the blues, and he has several solo albums out as a singer-songwriter that fuse those worlds. On his own, he has a lighter, more pop and punny approach as evidenced by some of his album titles: Bread and Buddha, Mantras for Madmen and West Eats Meet. He goes a bit deeper with Christian, forging an album that seduces you with gentle, folk-like melodies and lifts you with an exotic instrumental array: they’re global mystic minstrels jacked into the net.
Every song on this album is a journey. Sometimes it’s a slow river ride like “Harmonious Convergence,” which lazes along on the laziest, haziest summer day. But more often, it takes off on the melodic flights like those on “Apparently an Apparition,” mixing electronic grooves, string sections and solos on Mohan Vina, in an exhilarating swirl.
Some songs are gently lulling, like “I Saw It In Your Eyes” while others, like “Shorthand Prophecy,” propel you through an imaginary bazaar at the crossroads of Ibiza and Mumbai, with Manx singing the rhythmic syllables of Indian bols. In the midst of this Indian drive, Christian drops in a startling jazz fusion electric bass solo that makes you realize what a supreme instrumentalist he is.
Like George Harrison and The Beatles, Hans Christian and Harry Manx aren’t attempting to make traditional Indian music. Instead of straight ragas, they channel that spirit into a new sound, one full of ear-catching melody, propulsive rhythms and serenely enticing atmospheres that beckon you into their temple. You Are the Music of My Silence is the sound you might hear in your deepest, quietest space.
~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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