Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage – Blues Alif Lam Mim in the Mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis

My wife and I are nearing the end of a separation process that began two years ago. It has been, thankfully, a calm and orderly experience, largely without upset. We’ve included our two teenagers in family discussions, where appropriate. And we have built a new family dynamic that includes a shared home (I’m living in our basement apartment). We are all here for one another, physically and otherwise.

Still, it is a profoundly sad thing to experience. I have not grown used to it, and don’t expect to anytime soon. We are both in new, happy relationships. But there is so much to unravel after 20 years together.

I’ve made the adjustments one makes in a situation like this. But to genuinely let go of an aspect of one’s past requires understanding the scope of that loss.

This morning, I came across a helpful metaphor in the notes that accompany Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage’s gorgeous performance of Catherine Christer Hennix’s Blues Alif Lam Mim in the Mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis.

Describing her 2014 composition as a “simultaneity of ‘multi-universes,’ she writes: “When two such ‘universes’ come in proximity of each other and begin unfolding simultaneously along distinct cycles, there is a kaleidoscopic exfoliation of frequencies as one universe is becoming two…”

She goes on to describe cosmosis, the concept of a union with physical, intellectual and other dimensions. Her extraordinary, near-80-minute work does her rather fanciful explanation justice. And then some.

The recording features an expanded line-up of her “just intonation” ensemble Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage that includes Amir ElSaffar, Paul Schwingenschlögl, Hilary Jeffery, Elena Kakaliagou and Robin Hayward on brass instruments; Stefan Tiedje and Marcus Pal on electronics ; and vocals by Amirtha Kidambi, Imam Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer and Hennix.

Originally released in 2016, Blank Forms produced its first vinyl pressing last month.

The work explores the blues music origins of raga and makam, a modal system frequently heard in Middle Eastern music.

There is also a connection here to Hennix’s 2013 presentation of an “Illuminatory Sound Environment,” an idea credited to Henry Flynt in 1978, which was in turn based on Hennix’s The Electric Harpsichord.

For all of its big ideas, Blues Alif Lam Mim in the Mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis is also a deeply relatable listening experience. The combination of traditional Middle East sounds and the brass section feels completely organic. Tiedje’s and Pal’s electronics are suitably understated. And the vocal performances delivered by Kidambi, Tüzer and Hennix are exquisite.

This will do your heart good, no matter its present condition.

Kevin Press

The Moderns, vols. 1-3 – available exclusively from Amazon

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