Steve Roach & Serena Gabriel — Nectar Meditation
(Timeroom Editions no#, 2020, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-06-16
Arizona based musician, performing and recording artist Serena Gabriel creates sacred sound spaces and performs worldwide. Her exploration of various world instruments (synthesizers, drums, percussion, flute, kalimba, didgeridoo, and more), voice, healing arts, and music production has led her to develop her own style spanning multiple genres: meditation, tribal medicine music, electro-acoustic, experimental and electronic. A quick visit to her Bandcamp site and her 2015 recording Diving Deep will offer a sterling example of what she can do on her own. The recording at hand, Nectar Meditation, is her first full collaboration with Steve Roach, and joining them on this long-form piece is none other than Byron Metcalf on frame drums and percussion. Roach soundpaints with his battery of analog synths and Solina string ensemble, while Gabriel plays harmonium, temple bells, and some wordless voice, with Metcalf’s drums keeping a slow trance-like pace as needed. Opening with the gentle sound of bells, the droning electronics soon make their entrance, with the wavelike interactions between harmonium and synths offering a revelatory, shimmering, and immersive listening experience. As the piece proceeds, the synths and harmonium (both droning at roughly the same pitch with very subtle nuanced variations) gently move forward and back within the soundspace, at times eclipsing one another or meeting somewhere in the middle, stretching and bending as it goes. The drums come in at around the twelve minute mark, creating a subtle cadence that underscores the dreamy proceedings already in progress without really dominating it. The sound created by the three offers a perfect respite from the tensions and stresses of everyday life, a perfect gateway to meditative states or even slumber, as it works its subconscious magic. Somewhere around the one hour mark, the drums withdraw and are replaced by other more subtle percussives, bells and such, eventually leaving the synths and harmonium to wind the piece down to its conclusion. A beautiful and engulfing journey.
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