Jason Singh and Anna Helena McLean: Flight Music
A medieval Sufi prince and a Nordic goddess. What kind of music would they make together? Had you been at the Kino-teatr on Saturday, 30th June in St Leonards you would have found out.
It was astoundingly good. Thrillingly original, intensely moving and entertaining by turns. These two extraordinarily versatile voice artists are distanced by time, (home commitments) place (travel),and experience. Anna Helena has a training in classical cello and spent 7 years with Polish director, Staniewski, performing ancient Greek drama, specifically Electra; Jason grew up in London imitating bird-song, then funk, dub, reggae, jazz, soca, calypso, house, disco and hip hop, Punjabi folk music and Bhangra. They composed by wifi, while travelling and still performed flawlessly a number of experimental new tracks.
Their mixing of genres was rich but so deft, it was as if each reference was released from its moorings and allowed to become something quite unique. It disengaged the analytic mind and went straight to the heart. Anna Helena’s voice soared from the most exquisitely delicate to the most powerful, still beautiful, cry. As she skimmed the crests of sound, Jason came in softly at first, creating a pulse in the air like the beating of wings felt rather than heard. At times he dropped out of hearing entirely, only to swoop back in with a thunderous rhythmical tonality like a peregrine bolting from the sky.
They were inspired by their children, in particular the births, but these very personal experiences were transmuted by a consciousness of life at the cosmic and cellular level. Visually dramatic without being showy, passionate without sentimentality, their performance had a physicality which was profoundly and instantaneously communicative both of joy and of pathos. A week later it is still with me.
I sometimes try to imagine the most perfect music. It requires total freedom of expression with great mastery of technique, it must be inspired by depth of feeling and have an interesting conceptual framework. As a non-musician, I don't find I get very far with actualising it. Fortunately Jason and Anna Helena have done that for me. Yet how they have done so remains wonderfully mysterious. They both talked frankly about the sources of each piece of music. One of the lighter entertaining moments came when Jason gave a playful beat box rendering of all his early influences. When musicians do this, it feels a bit like being let into a secret, but the real magic ingredients remain unspoken: the individual psyche of the musicians, their talent, and love, actually.
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