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Born of Six, featuring Amelia Cuni, Catherine Christer Hennix, and Werner Durand, create exemplary drone compositions rooted in the traditions of Dhrupad, early minimalism and just intonation. Composed by Durand, Cuni, Hennix, Svapiti is one long composition measuring 55 minutes in length. 'A solid foundation is the best basis for the fundamental.' Narada´s exposition of the seven notes begins as follows: because Sadja (the tonic) arises from the combination of nose, throat, chest, palate, tongue, and teeth, it is known as 'six-born.'
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Drones, like any other musical device, can be used for good or ill. In lazy hands, they’re an easy way to coast your way to tedium. Remember all those blurry ambient CDs that came up after Loveless? Yeah, me neither – I heard my share of them, but none of them stuck. But in knowing hands, drones can be endlessly involving and powerfully affecting at both a physical and emotional level.
There are six hands at work in Born Of Six, but that’s not the source of the name. Instead, it refers to the six body parts — nose, throat, chest, palate, tongue and teeth — that it takes to form a note in Indian dhrupad music. Dhrupad is a centuries-old vocal style that forms the foundation of contemporary Hindustani ragas, and lead vocalist Amelia Cuni is a rare European who has mastered its practice. She is both a performer and a teacher, capable of playing dhrupad straight or applying elements of it to modern Western art music. In the latter mode, she has sung John Cage texts raga-style and collaborated with Terry Riley, David Toop, Paul Schütz, and her partner Werner Durand, who plays invented wind instruments like this one in Born Of Six. The third member of Born Of Six is drone vocalist Catherine Christer Hennix, who has played tambura and electronics with LaMonte Young and Henry Flynt, and who helps tilt this project in a decidedly experimental direction.
While a tambura flickers in and out of perception, the music is as electric as heat lightning, and Svapiti is often as turbulent. Durand’s instruments squeal like bagpipe chanters and groan like electrified digeridoos, and I suspect that the vocalists have used delays to layer their voices and other electronics to transform their timbres. At one point, Cuni’s ululations are filtered and layered into what sounds like a chorus of Indian geese; at another, voices and flute-like tones stack like storm clouds, ocean and horizon at dusk.
None of these people are dabblers; they’ve each explored the technique, philosophy, and (in Hennix’s case) mathematical essentials of drones for decades. And they aren’t shy to ask a lot of the listener; this record, like Hennix’s Live At The Grimm Museum Volume One and The Electric Harpsichord, lasts nearly an hour, and doesn’t have much to offer in the way of melodic development or rhythmic action. Nonethless, it’s a swirling whirlpool of ear-tweaking action, and if you give yourself over to it, you might be surprised and dismayed when that hour is up. (Dusted Magazine)