We live in an age where music is more accessible now than ever. Anyone can go online and experience an endless stream of myspace pages which allows them the chance to both encounter a new band or artist for the first time, as well as offering them the opportunity to hear a handful of songs from their catalogue of work. This is a fantastic way for any musician, especially one who doesn't have the pull of a major record label behind them, to reach their audience with just one click of the mouse. Whereas by contrast in the pre-Internet world you largely bought your music from either your local music shop or the big chain record store. Being able to actually reach out and communicate directly with the artist responsible for creating your favorite music wasn't really an option.
Over the past seven years of writing reviews and conducting interviews with various types of artists I've been extremely fortunate to speak with some very interesting people. I have actually managed to connect with a few of them on a personal level and one such artist whose music literally fell into my lap one day is Ariel Kalma.
Ariel was born and raised in Paris and began his musical journey as a young boy, first playing the flute and then moving on to the saxophone when he was in his teens. As a young man his travels in the 70's took him all over the world and it's certainly evident the minute you are exposed to this man's wonderful music, that like a sponge he soaked up a multitude of various and diverse cultural influences and injected them all directly into his own music.
My way of an introduction to Ariel's music came in 2008 via the American independent record label Beta-lactam Ring Records. I was investigating my most recent package of promo CD's when this thick and sturdy looking book-like CD fell into my lap. On the front cover set against the black backdrop was a drawn picture of a hand with an eye directly in the middle of the palm. Interesting I thought as I took note of the artist and the title of the disc Le Temps des Moissons. The liner notes revealed among other things that the album was recorded in 1975 after Ariel returned from India, and that is was being released on CD for the first time. The music contained on this album basically blew my mind the first time I put it on. The record centers around Ariel's raw and at times blistering, unfiltered saxophone work which was often augmented by a wah-wah pedal. The atmospheres slide effortlessly back and forth between pure unadulterated funk and almost trance like ragas. Another vital ingredient to his unique sound on this album was in the actual recording setup itself. He set up two analog tape recorders that were linked together, so the tracks could bounce off of each other, thus creating a ripple or echo effect. Le Temps des Moissons is an absolutely fabulous record from beginning to end and you should do both him and yourself a favor and seek it out.
This record was just the appetizer for me though in what has so far been akin to an eleven course meal at an Italian wedding, as I've been digging through albums from Ariel's back catalogue as well as some of his more recent releases. Although his post 70's output isn't as avant-garde or cutting edge as either Le Temps or the equally as brilliant follow up Osmose (1978), which was a collaborative effort that combined Richard Tinti's jungle field recordings with Kalma's minimalist sounding atmospherics, his music has always managed to evolve. In fact he has never really made the same album twice. After he read my review of Le Temps he e-mailed me to thank me and we began to correspond back and forth. Since then I've had the pleasure of reviewing his 2006 disc Spirit Dancer (another fantastic offering) as well as Chillout India (2008) which combines Eastern moods with ambient grooves and tribal beats.
The journey continues as Kalma recently issued his 'sequel' to Osmose entitled appropriately enough Osmose 2. While he has returned to the overall concept of Osmose which is to combine the natural sounds of nature with flutes, keyboards and various other instruments, the pulsating rhythm's of life remain an underlying thread that runs through all of his recordings past and present. His record label Music Mosaic which he co-founded with his wife Ama in Australia back in 2000 states quite clearly what both he and the artists on his roster aim to achieve with their music. Like a multi-layered and deeply woven mosaic the goal is to encourage all people to live in harmony on our planet and to allow the diverse sounds of different cultures to flow together seamlessly. The label continues to offer individually themed compilations that highlight a wide range of artists from all over the world. Case in point with Didgeridoo Drum Dance (2009) an electrifying collection of songs that celebrate the wonderful drone and primal aspects of this wind instrument that was first developed by Australia's Indigenous people almost two thousand years ago. Having never really been educated or exposed to the sounds of this instrument I sat back and listened with absolute amazement at how effectively the instrument complimented the deep rhythmic grooves. Chalk up yet another winner for Ariel and Music Mosaic.
If you've never heard Ariel Kalma's music in any shape or form the good news is you can basically start anywhere in his catalogue of music to immediately get a feel for this incredibly gifted musician.
Visit Ariel Kalma's personal website or Music Mosaic for more information on the man and how to purchase his music. In addtion Bandcamp allows you to stream complete songs from across his back catalogue. You can purchase his albums directly from that site as well.