Reede, 10 August 2018 07:53
Estonian Life No. 32 2018
Apologies to Van Morrison for stealing the title (almost) of perhaps his greatest song. But these were the words that came to mind after listening to Meelis Vind’s Liivamandala
(Sand Mandala) CD. The slender one has long been a fan of the clarinetist and it was a great delight to hear him live at the exquisite opening concert of the recent Estonian Music Week, playing as a member of the music collective Avarus. Avarus could be translated as spaciousness or amplitude, the second being, of course, the more musical term.
Vind is truly hard to pigeonhole. He first came to the slimster’s attention as a jazz musician – playing with many luminaries, most notably in the Estonian Dream Big Band. But he is also a trained classical musician, a member of ERSO, the Estonian State Symphony. And a composer of note. EMW afforded the opportunity to acquire the CDs of many of the performers. Liivamandala’s very name caught the eye. Recorded in 2013 it falls into neither the classical or jazz genre. The mandala is a giveaway – a spiritual symbol for Hindus and Buddhists. If challenged the slimster would coin a new approach.
At first blush one expects classical influences as the majority of Vind’s fellow musicians on the recording play an instrument that one does not associate with jazz. They are Liis Viira, harp; Mari Targo, violin; Mairit Mitt and Liina Žigurs, viola, and Joosep Kõrvits, cello. But then non-classical instruments: bansuri (an Indian side-blown flute), played by Citra Krista Joonas and tabla (a percussion instrument, also from the Indian subcontinent), Arno Kalbus, who adds other percussion work. And of course Meelis Vind himself, clarinet and bass clarinet.
Already, by noting the two instruments from India the reader can guess why this CD is difficult to categorize. It is not “World music” either. So let’s go with mystical music. Or in Estonian, müstiline muusika
Of the seven cuts on this interesting disc two truly stood out for this listener. The almost 11 minute long Taal mantra
(here we go again with the unexplainable!), is a meditative percussion dominated co-composition by Kalbus and Vind. All others are Vind’s. A mantra is something from Buddhism – a sound or word that one repeats to assist in meditation. Vind and Kalbus have succeeded in a remarkable way. What Taal means the lean one has no clue. The internet informs me that Taal is a complex volcano in the Philippines. The composers have perplexed the slimster, but as a meditative aid it certainly is bang on.Da Pacem,
dedicated to Ants Laig is the other enthralling selection, fittingly the last on the recording. Thus remaining in the subconscious for a long time, as perhaps Vind intended. Da Pacem
is a Templar chant; the title affirms again the composer’s desire to capture the undecipherable. The classical influence is strongest here. Simply wonderful.
From the remaining cuts Oodates lumepilvi
(Waiting for Clouds of Snow) deserves a mention. It features Vind on the bass clarinet, a wonderful instrument rarely heard setting the mood, followed by the regular clarinet in duet with Viira’s harp. And then the bansuri joins in. A similar aura and mystique are found on the other four selections as well.
An interesting final note. The cover image is attributed to Vind – and proves that he has more than musical chops. The artwork by Ervin H. Seppel is stunning. On such a disc the production work – recording and mixing – is paramount to convey the intent. Kudos to Tanel Klesment for ensuring that the fascinating, enigmatic Vind’s message is so clearly heard.
Mystique is an atmosphere, an air, a feeling. Some might choose to use terms such as vibes or vibrations. Certainly musically the esoteric spell that this CD casts is hard to put into words. Thanks to EMW the slender one has been exposed to varied, almost transcendental and mysterious new music. Those who were wise enough to purchase this CD will surely concur.OTEPÄÄ SLIM