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CD Feature/ Suzanne Teng: "Enchanted Wind"

img  Tobias

Just like there are many different ways of listening to music, there are various angles of how to approach and describe it. For Suzanne Teng, it is quite obvious, what she wanted these pieces to be:”Quiet Music for quiet times” and “meditations”, rather than “compositions”. With many contemporary musicians purposely gauging the subliminal and farmost corners of human perception in terms of volume and audio pressure, this certainly needs some explaining. After all, “Enchanted Wind” is neither a shallow oasis nor a radical experiment.

If Teng talks about quietude at all, she is doing so in a different context. The sound of her bass flute for example, an instrument of unusual proportions and size, is of a contained, yet perfectly physical power and of a pervasive, radiating warmth – it penetrates and the body and influences its sensory activity, if you allow its sonorities to expand fully. The instrument turns up on the opening and closing track and its suggestive tone, full of expectation and peace does a great job at first opening up a space of many possibilities and then of closing it in harmonxy and tranquility. The accompanying performers are placed subtely in the mix – Gilbert Levy on dulcimer, harmonium, tambura and other more or less “exotic” instruments and Bobbie Jo Curley on delicate celtic harp – while Suzanne’s flute rises to new hights. Her solos are to be understood less in a typical Western thematic way than in terms of searching for the right form of expression at the right time. Thus, they do not necessary lead to a conclusion or a climax, but circle the same point until they hit a spot. Compared to her previous efforts with Mystic Journey, Teng has reduced the musical complexity even more. Gone are the rhythms, gone even are the colourful arrangements – “Enchanted Winds” relies exclusively on deep string pads and the intimate interaction between two or three artists per piece. With its sparse instrumentation and continous approach throughout the album, this could well be called “Minimal Music”, if the term wouldn’t suggest something entirely different alltogether. It is only towards the very end, that the structures and moods start opening up a little bit: “Floating Bamboo” bathes in several instrumental motives and the six minutes of “Loltun” see long contrabass flute breaths find their way through a cavarnous labyrinth against a backdrop of gentle rain.

While Americans are perfectly happy with the “New Age” seal, Europeans feel an automatic resistance against it, as well as against sentences like “Music for peace, love and healing” (on the back cover). Which is why it is a good thing that Teng lives and writes in Topanga, where she also organises the “Mystic Journey Family Festival” and not from, say, London, where this music would probably not have been considered “hip” enough to be released at all. The latter term, by the way, is definitely not an apropriate one to describe this music, but when looked at from the right angle, it did not ask for that either.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Suzanne Teng

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