Kronos have made some marvellous music in their time, from their recordings of Steve Reich and Terry Riley works, to more roots oriented albums like Pieces of Africa and Five Tango Sensations, to such left-field classics as their performances of Philip Glass’ Dracula soundtrack, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, and the music of Sigur Rós. Floodplain is just one more feather in what is getting to be a pretty large cap. It takes its inspiration from the floodplains of some of the world’s great rivers, including compositions trad. and original from Egypt, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq and Iran, Serbia, Ethiopia, and other countries. One cannot help but infer from this selection some comment on the state of US politics and society at the time the record was made (2007-2008), but ultimately Floodplain’s enduring triumph will be artistic, not political. In tone it ranges from the lush Egyptian “pop” of Ya Habibi Ta'ala (My Love, Come Quickly) to the agressive rhythms of the traditional Iraqi song, “Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me” to the 21 minute modern composition from Serbian Aleksandra Vrebalov, “...hold me, neighbor, in this storm...”. As such, it’s not going to appeal to all ears, but as an example of how to bridge the worlds of traditional and contemporary music you could do far worse, and for me I just know this will be one of my favourites of the year.
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