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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Aya Nishina - FLORA (Tzadik, 2013) ****

By Brian Questa

The music of Aya Nishina’s Flora is magical, mystical, and pure. Upon playing it I was frozen in my chair, staring at the wall, the sounds washing over me: sustained harmonies of soft dissonances, repetitive and song-like phrases rising from the 6 women choir, words alternating among foreign, perceived-as-nonsense, and profound, simplicity-meaning.

I am transported to a cold place, a place of arctic calibrations; the world is left behind, both my job and my commitments; I am in a desolate northern island, hidden in the most cavernous snowy cave, and deep within the ice flake, in the microscopic particles of hydrogen, I am cradled by Aya Nishina’s choir. A repetitive lullaby insists to me, “This world is once and one. This world is once and one. This world is once and one.”

Tzadik consistently challenges expectations, and while this work may not be the most fitting for a free jazz collection, I do not know to what genre it most welcomingly belongs.  Like much of the music of Tzadik, it defies classification, challenging you to erase the labels and titles and to suspend yourself in something new.