Atman

Tradition

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With regular collaborator Anna Nacher as the featured vocalist on a number of this album's tracks, with bassist Gulinski appearing as well, Atman takes a slight turn to the more rocking side of things on Tradition. Admittedly, it's only by degrees that this is more rocking than anything else, but even if the only strong rhythm on the opening "39 I Ching" comes from Gulinski's bass, the core trio's intense performance is still a wonder to hear. Nacher's sometimes keening, sometimes cool vocals make it that much more compelling, getting Tradition off to a fine start. Other combinations of Nacher and a touch more brusque rock power surface on "Tensegretty" and other numbers. Otherwise, the hushed, powerful sense of drama and mystery from Personal Forest remains paramount, with crystalline guitar (and other stringed instruments) leading the way, especially on the album's lengthy centerpiece "The Talking Meadow (Story)." The band's focus on "deep ecology" continues unabated throughout the album, with one number called "Lullaby for Rainbow Warrior" after the bombed flagship of Greenpeace. Similarly, such titles as "The Theatre of Mist" (with a marvelous series of performances on many instruments, from miniharmonium to Slovakian pastoral fujara) and the two enveloping numbers "Natural Landscapes" show Atman as focused as ever on both their work and inspiration. An especially inspired number here is a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun." Given a brisk, quick reading from the performers, with percussion provided by bells and gong and a mix of acoustic and electric guitars both, it takes the elements of unearthly majesty from the original and gives the old warhorse one of its best reinterpretations in years. Tradition concludes with a live improv jam, "Kosovo," a short piece that incorporates everything from near-complete silence to clattering percussion, feedback, and Nacher's wailing.

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