Here we have a rich and varied collection of some of Art’s recent and highly eclectic tunes (some of which we have reviewed before), sequenced sympathetically and re-packaged under the numerologists’s dream of a title: 11:11.
11:11 can be interpreted as synchronicity or serendipity, and fits neatly with the ethos of Art’s continued penchant for recording music in the healing frequency of 432 Hz.
The project kicks off with Jerf, which, unusually for Art, features delay employed as a part of the instrumentation, with ghosts of the lead melody lines being used to build mystique and ear-worms in equal measure. I’m a big fan of this technique, and the dry and crunchy break-beat allows the liquid and reverb-drenched instruments to work weaving miracles of sound. There’s also a human voice in the mix, as well as the kamanche doing it’s wonderfully organic thing.
Next up is Perennial Wisdom, a haunting but no less hypnotic track that features Reza Kashi (on Persian Setar and Oud) and moves from exploratory plucked Eastern melodies to full-on Hans Zimmer-esque cinematic bombast in the space of 4 minutes. There are some wonderful cross-cultural references throughout, including needle static, male-voice choir, trap drums on an 808 and some astounding shifts in sonics on synth that feel a bit disconcerting – in a good way!
Morning Dew is a beautiful piece that melds jazz and classical style and performance with a pop sensibility and is a great showcase for Art’s piano chops and Negar Nick’s on kamanche.
An 11 minute improvisational piece, The Void is a sonic exploration of the great unanswered questions of the make-up of the universe. So a suitably sprawling piece only seems fitting, as they are surely some big questions! The piano does a lot of the heavy lifting on this track, setting up patterns for the other virtuosos to play over. Ever-shifting (rather like the universe), there is a palpable excitement and energy about the piece that bleeds over into the listener… Such is the skill on display on The Void that I would not have guessed it was improvised… Topped and tailed by quieter, more ruminative movements, it’s non-stop impressive and I can’t help but wish I’d been present to witness it being captured, along with the audience who applaud enthusiastically at the conclusion. I don’t think it’s a co-incidence that it’s been placed at the heart of this collection, having a symmetry of its own, and marking out the middle of the album in some style.
Alchemists is next and much more meditative it is, too. A pulsing throb gives the track a tense heartbeat that the hammered dulcimer can play over. When the rhythm steps up a gear and the bass joins in about half way through, I’m put in mind of the kind of contributions that Manu Katché and Tony Levin respectively made to the works of Peter Gabriel’s more world music-inflected output of the 1990s and 2000s. Wonderful!
The intriguingly-titled Universe is Calling SOS features Erhu improvisations by Guo Gan and a muscular choir presence, too, propelled along a thumping, pumping rhythm designed to get your heart beating faster.
The album concludes with Infinite Pattern. Wearing its eastern credentials very much on its sleeve, with some marvelous dissonant harmonic work, it’s an otherworldly way to wrap up 11:11.
Here at Stereo Stickman, we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a few tracks from Art, and this collection is a fascinating retrospective that showcases his talents nicely. Something of a musical magpie, he fearlessly plugs in to all manner of influences, instruments and collaborators with the kind of gusto and skill that can only be admired. It’s extremely accomplished and extremely impressive.