Sonolumina — Solar Logos
(Symbolic Insight 0101000, 2012, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-10-16Music like that created by Sonolumina has a long history of bringing up the topic of cultural appropriation. Here we've got some Americans taking (or borrowing or stealing, depending on your viewpoint) the instruments and musical sounds of other cultures and using them to create what could be considered either global music or American music with exotic spices. The intentions of the musicians may or may not have any bearing on how this question is decided. I have mixed feelings about this debate. On the one hand, I feel that it should be ignored entirely, and Solar Logos should be judged solely on what comes out of the speakers; on the other hand, nothing exists out of context, and even innocent actions can reveal unpleasant truths. Do we have the same debate (in reverse) when a musician from somewhere outside Europe or North America picks up a guitar and makes music with a Western influence? Are they appropriating someone else's culture? Or are both sides taking part in a process of globalization that (again depending on your viewpoint) is a noble pursuit, bringing the human race together, or the ruination of human diversity? Oh, my brain hurts. You make up your own mind about that issue, and I'll tell you about Sonolumina. This is a hybrid acoustic/electronic project that fuses some advanced technological sounds with many different acoustic instruments, from violin and trumpet to tabla, dumbek, darbuka, and whatnot from around the world, some of it played specially for this recording, some as part of field recordings from India. With a few exceptions, there is a smooth, percolating groove backing the music that is quite infectious. Those exceptions mostly involve harsh distortion that jumps out of the mix, especially on the otherwise good "Fatima." The processed trumpet occasionally sounds reminiscent of the things Mark Isham was doing back in the early 80s. Everything is seamlessly assembled into soundscapes that are sometimes ambient, sometimes rhythmic, and sometimes both at the same time.
Related artist(s): Sonolumina
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