by Anne Carlini
| Title – ‘Geminus’
Artist – Kane Mathis
For those not in the know, after 23 years of intense traditional study of the Kora and Oud, Kane Mathis releases a record featuring himself on both instruments in a trio setting with fellow New York-based musicians John Hadfield on drums (Yo-Yo Ma, Kinan Azmeh) and Sam Minaie on bass (Tigran Hamasyan, Mark Guiliana).
Geminus (out April 9th, 2021) features all original material that is strongly rooted in Kane’s long standing study of these two traditions.
15 years of frequent trips to The Gambia to study with his Kora teacher Malamini Jobarteh and 5 and half years of close continual study of the Oud with Münir Nurettin Beken have given Kane a strong traditional foundation from which to branch out from.
This beautifully recorded debut album, mixed by John Davis (Brad Mehldau) at The Bunker recording studio in Brooklyn, New York in live sessions over 3 days, is one of the most ambiently magnificent I have heard in many a year, and I truly believe that anyone who takes the time to listen, will be instantly enraptured by it also.
1. ‘Route Des Jardins’ (7:32)
Performing on the 21-string Mandinka Harp and the Turkish Oud, Kane renders compelling interpretations of these traditional music, opening with the gently frenetic, yet always controlled and stunning atmospheric ‘Route Des Jardins’ and backs that up with the ornate ‘Kürdi Oud Taksim,’ the more relaxed, foot-tapping bounce and sway of ‘Kürdi 7 and 9,’ the airy and free mantra of ‘Kaira,’ and then the melodic ‘August.’
After years of study with generous masters who have given Kane a rare opportunity to share these traditions with other cultures, all that and more can be found within the quite mesmerizing ‘Chant,’ which is followed by the grounded passion of ‘Etude’ [for Oud in 3 sections], the album rounding out with the gently forthright ‘Muhayyer Kürdi Semai,’ the feverish ‘Gemini,’ closing on the decorated structure of ‘Nikriz Sirto.’
In summary, this debut is not quite like any other record that interprets these traditions in a band setting.
The lead instruments are uniquely exposed and the general approach trades languid romanticism for highly engaged dynamic energy.
Often, fusion efforts buttress cultures up against one another, seldom going beyond the novelty of the encounter.
This project presents more as the productive result of a conversation intending to draw equally from each tradition involved.