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KALMA, ARIEL - An Evolutionary Music

Format: do-LP
Label & Cat.Number: Rvng Intl. RERVNG05
Release Year: 2014
Note: previously unreleased material (1972-1979) from the archives of this highly interesting and versatile French "minimal/progressive/jazz/electronic" musician and artist, who toured as a true cosmopolitan extensively around the world & was always more interested in the exploration and expansion of his consciousness than becoming famous... the yet almost undiscovered 'spiritual brother' of LA MONTE YOUNG, C. PALESTINE and TERRY RILEY.. special sleeve design & 24 p. booklet
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €28.00

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" 'An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings 1972-1979)' stellt unveröffentlichtes Material aus den Archiven des vielseitigen Künstlers ARIEL KALMA zusammen. Zu gleichen Teilen mit Musikalität und Spiritualität aufgeladen, schwingt die Musik von KALMA im Radius der Avantgarde der Siebziger. Seine alle Grenzen überschreitende elektronische Musik erstrahlt hier im Detail, ob das nun der frühe Free Jazz und die Spoken Word Stücke oder die späteren Experimente mit Synthesizer und Drumcomputer sind. KALMAs Geschichte ist eine Geschichte von Weltreisen, musikalischen Entdeckungen und dem Zurücklassen des eignen Egos. Für einen Künstler, der öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit oft zugunsten der asketischen Wahrheit der Musik von sich wies, ist 'An Evolutionary Music' der Stempel eines wahren Romanciers. ///

An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings: 1972 – 1979) compiles unreleased recordings from the archives of multiversal artist Ariel Kalma. Concerned as much with musicality as spiritual facility, Kalma’s work vibrates aside fellow travelers along the great rainbow in curved air of the 1970s avant-garde.

Ariel Kalma’s boundary-blurring electronic music is heard here in radiant detail across a selection of work spanning his early free-jazz and spoken word trips to his infinite modular synthesizer and analogue rhythm machine meditations. Kalma’s story is one of world travel, musical discovery and ego-abandonment. Yet for an artist who often discarded public recognition in favor of the ascetic truths in music making, An Evolutionary Music offers the imprint of an outright auteur.

Born in France, but rarely in one place for long, Ariel Kalma’s 1970s migrations took flight through the decade’s furthest spaces of musical and spiritual invention. As a hired horn for well-known French groups, the young musician toured as far as India in 1972, a place where Kalma found an antidote to rock n’ roll’s glitz and glamour in sacred music traditions. Kalma would later return to India and learn circular breathing techniques enabling him to sustain notes without pause against tape-looping harmonies configured through his homemade effects units.

Those effects evolved from Kalma’s loyalty to a beloved dual ReVox set-up— two tape machines “chained” together to form a primitive delay unit. Over looped saxophone melodies, Kalma would mix in all shades of polyphonic color, synthesizing fragments of poetry with ambient space or setting modal flute melodies to rippling drum machine patterns and starlit field recordings. The results collapse distinctions between “electro-acoustic”, “biomusicology” and “ambient” categorization.

In France during the mid-1970s, Kalma was staffed as a technician at Pierre Henry’s legendary Institut National Audiovisuel, Groupe de Recherches Musicales (INA GRM) studios – the same music concréte laboratory that spawned masterpieces by members Luc Ferrari, Iannis Xenakis, and Bernard Parmegiani. Like his predecessors and colleagues at INA GRM, Kalma’s relationship to sound was both formal and non-hierarchical. To Kalma, all music existed as universal patterns, in perfect harmony with the people, places and environments it was created.

Kalma’s recorded output of the 1970s culminated in the now scarcely-available Les Temps des Moissons (trans. The Time of Harvest) in 1975 and Osmose in 1978, a masterpiece of birdsong exploration. Osmose is double album featuring sculptor Richard Tinti, who had supplied Kalma with hours of field recordings from the rainforests of Borneo. With somber organ textures and wistful sax blended seamlessly into the wild of the forest sounds, Osmose avoids simple soundscaping through Kalma’s careful arrangements, allowing each life form its own harmonic gravity.

The backdrop of An Evolutionary Music depicts Kalma’s adventures as a world traveller on the cosmic path of inner discovery and musical innovation. Coinciding with United States’ bicentennial in 1976, Kalma made his way to New York to join the exclusive musical-spiritual collective Arica, and ended up crashing in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine’s basement. At night, Ariel played the church’s organ and ventured out to mix it up with like-minded musicians in the Village. It was here that he met a musical hero, Don Cherry, an artist of much consequence and similarity to Kalma.

An Evolutionary Music harvests uncatalogued music made between Kalma’s private press records and onward through the many small-batch cassette releases Kalma would tender. With this collection of musical hybridity and distinct genre-corrosion, Ariel Kalma’s righteous bucking of both popular music trends and the academic tenets of the avant-garde falls squarely in the spirit of other renegades of sacred new-music such as Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Charlemagne Palestine.

Ariel Kalma’s An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings: 1972 – 1979) will be released November 25, 2014 as double LP and double CD sets and November 18, 2014 digitally. There is a limited edition pastel green vinyl version available in limited quantity (only 100 for the world!). Extensive liner notes and artist interviews were overseen by New York writer Jesse Jarnow. The collection was assembled by RVNG and Ariel Kalma himself, who continues making music to this day." [labelinfo]


"Tracing the trajectory of French-born musician Ariel Kalma does not yield a straight path. Which makes sense for an artist prone to world travels and crafting a strain of music that acts as a peregrination through numerous musical forms of the late 20th century: free jazz, progressive rock, drone, tape-loop based minimalism, electroacoustic composition, field recordings, new age meditations, and more. His name crops up as a sideman for the likes of bossa nova guitarist Baden Powell, Belgian pop crooner Salvatore Adamo, and prog rock guitarist Richard Pinhas, while his own recorded works are ludicrously rare, released in small batches that now fetch astronomical sums online. Saying that Ariel Kalma is underappreciated isn’t quite right in that most of his work remains unheard.

As is their wont, RVNG Intl.’s reassessment of Kalma seeks to correct that imbalance, not by just reissuing such rarities as 1975’s Le Temps des Moissons or the strange hybrid of jungle field recordings and body-elevating drones on 1978’s Osmose, but by encouraging the composer himself to unlock old boxes of tapes and reevaluate whatever little treasures were left behind. So while much of Kalma’s released music aims towards the infinite, with compositions taking up the entire side of vinyl records and often surpassing the nine-minute mark, An Evolutionary Music is rather concise: 15 of the 17 tracks are under seven minutes while two of the standouts are also the longest.

Kalma’s bio—as detailed in the liner notes—finds him aligned with similarly-minded musical travelers. At one point, he worked at Paris’s iconic INA-GRM Studio, the birthplace of 20th century electronic music. Busking on the streets of New York City in the 1970s, he encountered another world music fuser in Don Cherry and also came into contact with American minimalist Terry Riley. Those two might be the closest comparisons for Kalma’s own music. In 1971, Kalma—already having picked up flute and saxophone—acquired a reel-to-reel tape machine and holed up in his Montparnasse flat, began making home recordings that explored tape feedback, echo, and his own voice. Some of these earliest recordings, like "Les Mots de Tous Les Jours (Rêves Etranges)" and "Les Etoiles Sont Allumées" appear here, short and exploratory, interesting primarily for what they indicate lays ahead.

Similarly succinct as these spoken word pieces, "Enuej Elleiv" hints at Kalma’s fusion of free jazz, experimental electronics, and the timbre of esoteric instruments from around the world. Kalma plays harmonium and saxophone and takes collaborator Dominique Regef’s hurdy-gurdy and sends it through an extreme amount of phase, giving the song a phantasmal, shifting sound that carries you far afield in under three minutes. His work with primitive drum machines also provides for interesting fragments like "Chase Me Now" and "Voltage Controlled Wave".

"In 1974 and 1975 I had some very strong experiences of oneness with the universe." So Kalma is quoted in Evolutionary Music’s liner notes and his travels took him through India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Israel, where he picked up strange stringed instruments and mastered the art of circular breathing. That latter technique dilated the range and duration of his horn improvisations. With his never-ending horn drones in motion with his own tape machine, he began to find a peaceful, unmoored sound. Some of these early combinations appear here as "Almora Sunrise", while the expansive 10 minutes of "Ecstasy Musical Mind Yoga" show him the French equivalent to Riley’s all night flights.

Some pieces seem promising in their mesmerism, but don’t hang around long enough to fully take effect, instead coming across as detours rather than full-fledged trips. Kalma’s own "Love and Dream" reminds me of Laraaji (another such cosmic artist recently reassessed) but in a smaller dosage. Only on the 19-minute tapestry "Yogini Breath", which Kalma developed for use with a friend’s breath therapy work, does the true scope of his sonic vision come into full view. Powered along by struck bells and the sound of the incoming tide, veil-like layers of sound accrue: a chorale of wordless chants, a ticking drum machine, thrumming bass, and more bells. Kalma weaves them all together into something dense, kaleidoscopic and weightless at once, a magic carpet ride." [Pitchfork]