Slap The Moon

Scottish composer and master guitarist Simon Thacker keeps “chasing the mystery” (as per his own words) to achieve a finely balanced communion of Eastern and Western intents. This music reflects decades of profound studies, traveling and considerations while originating acoustic interactions that can’t possibly leave a listener indifferent. Trikala – a Sanskrit word indicating the temporal trinity of past, present and future – is a double CD that encloses the fruits of Thacker’s researches and meetings in the last three years.

Synthesizing in the space of a mere review the plethora of compositional suggestions and inventive flashes comprised by this colossal opus would be rather pathetic. In fact, besides the brilliance emerging from over two hours of seriously variegated material, we’re gifted with a 40-page booklet describing in painstaking detail each piece’s origin and structure. In a nutshell, Thacker was looking for an intelligent fusion between his visions and certain sonic characteristics typical of the four poles of the Indian continent: Hindustani classical, Carnatic classical, Punjabi folk and Bengali mystical folk. There’s obviously more than this, including improvisation and remodeling of traditional songs. Nothing sounds less than heartfelt and technically thrilling.

To attain what he wanted, Thacker gathered the following virtuosos: Raju Das Baul (voice, khomok), Sunayana Ghosh (tabla), K.V. Gopalakrishnan (kanjira), N. Guruprasad (ghatam), Justyna Jablonska (cello), Japjit Kaur (voice), Afsana Khan (voice), Sarvar Sabri (tabla), Jacqueline Shave (violin), Sukhvinder Singh “Pinky” (tabla), Neyveli B. Venkatesh (mridangam), Farida Yesmin (voice). The talents in question combine in diverse lineups fully functional to the composition they’re featured in, the Edinburgh-based deus ex machina’s now logical, now spectacular guitar playing acting as a guide light.

After days of immersion in this work, a strange combination of feelings emerged little by little. On the one hand – as always with Thacker’s recordings – the gratitude for having again been exposed to an all-inclusive recipe of brilliant interplay, in turn eliciting joyfulness, nostalgia and physical participation (the rhythmical complexities alone constitute a healthy training of intuition and reflexes). On the other, a sort of resigned pity for the numerous know-it-alls constantly churning out inscrutable (if partially illiterate) cosmic formulations, yet treating musics from distant cultures as a method to show their denigratory ignorance. Learning to understand melodies and pulses evoking something that we haven’t lived means adding several fragments of unconscious knowledge to our essential substratum. A part of our self that should never, ever be influenced by someone else’s dictations.

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