Rhythm & Hues: The Live EP

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Combining jazz and the Chinese zodiac — a novel idea. The Live EP from Montréal-based group Rhythm & Hues — masterminded by musician and composer Parker Mah — does just that. Six tracks are available to listen (and download for free for a limited time) over at Bandcamp.

Based on his brief, I worked with Parker to create the cover album, which features a rhythmic emanation of “soundforms” — folded, constellated space — originating from a glowing image of the Chinese luo pan, which is used in ancient geomantic practices, and synthesizes knowledge of the heaven and stars with that of the earth. The all-important lunar cycle is depicted by the ring of phasing moons below. Like Parker’s album concept, the idea is that sound vibrations underlie all reality/matter, and seen through a composer’s eye, can even describe the essence of character as well.

From the webpage:

This EP represents one half of a series of original portraits based on the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, inspired by jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams’ seminal 1945 album The Zodiac Suite.

12 people, each acquaintances and each born under a different Chinese astrological sign, were captured in individual portraits – 6 musical portraits and 6 video portraits – and presented at Studio 01 at OBORO in May 2012.
The entire work, entitled 12 CHARACTERS, was commissioned by the Festival Accès Asie in Montreal for “Moments,” an annual performance series based loosely around the themes of Networks and Interactions (be they across cultures, borders or disciplines), and highlighting emerging Asian-Canadian artists.

Woven together as a continuum of aural and visual vignettes, these oblique yet concise portraits were inspired by people and their qualities as seen through the composer’s eye. By layering present experiences over past histories, 12 Characters became a potent living statement on mixed self-identities and the diverse qualities that unite us, presented through video projections and a live musical performance.

The musical portion of this project, recorded live at the performance, are now being released for the first time as a stand-alone 6-track EP. Enjoy!

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Cet EP est composé de la moitié d’une série de portraits originaux basés sur les douze signes de l’horoscope chinois. Cette série s’inspire de l’album incontournable de la pianiste de jazz Mary Lou Williams, intitulé The Zodiac Suite (1945).

12 personnes, chacune née sous un des 12 signes de l’horoscope chinois, ont inspiré des portrait individuels – soit 6 pièces musicales et 6 vidéos.

L’oeuvre tout entière, intitulée 12 CARACTÈRES, a été présentée au Festival Accès Asie à OBORO en mai 2012 dans le cadre de “Moments,” une série de performances basée autour des thématiques de Réseau et Interaction qui met en valeur des artistes émergeants de la diaspora asiatique. Tissés dans un continuum de vignettes sonores et visuelles, ces portraits obliques mais concis s’inspirent des gens et de leurs qualités filtrés par l’oeil du compositeur. En superposant expériences actuelles et récits anciens, 12 Caractères devient une affirmation forte et vivante des identités métissées et des diverses qualités qui nous unissent, prenant la forme de projections vidéos et de performances musicales.

La portion musicale de ce projet, enregistrée en direct pendant la performance, vous est offerte pour la première fois en format téléchargeable.

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