Boomkat Product Review:
Another strong release from Oren Ambarchi's Black Truffle, this one's a recording of a Berlin performance from John Cage and Terry Riley collaborator Amelia Cuni. The Italian-born musician studied in India for a decade and brings the experience to her moving raags, where she interprets yearning emotion and medieval mysticism with blissful vocals, zither, tanpura and pakhawaj drum.
Cuni is most widely respected for her work with traditional dhrupad singing, an ancient Hundustani musical form that pairs spiritual poetry with rhythmic and melodic improvisation. She begins this performance with the perfect introduction to the form, a 30-minute version of Raag Bageshri, the legendary late-night raag intended to embody the raw emotion as a woman waits to reunite with her lover. Cuni's version is epic and intense, and her breathtaking vocals twist lovingly around Gianni Ricchizzi's vichitra vina (a glass zither) and her own yearning tanpura plucks.
On 'Devino Amor', she takes inspiration from the written work of Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi, who wrote verse in Umbrian dialect in the 13th century. A praise song that fuses Catholic mysticism with ancient Hindu traditional elements, it's a smart and spiritual composition that sounds startlingly original and drips with passion and studied intent. The set is rounded off by a performance of Raag Shahana Kanada, with Helmut Waibl playing pakhawaj drum alongside Cuni and Ricchizzi. Simmering with tension, it erupts midway through in resonant percussion, that lifts Cuni's vocals and Ricchizzi's zither sounds into another dimension entirely.