It’s important to have respect for the mysterious, I think, and Prana Trio’s The Singing Image of Fire certainly appears to be a record in full concert with such a view.
Drummer Brian Adler’s group features vocalist Sunny Kim and works through a series of classic Persian, Chinese and Indian poetry. Each piece on this intelligent album flows organically in pursuit of mystery, movingly existing in an ultimate state of fluidity.
Some may find this approach to art disconcerting. Those who turn to art for exploration and sincerity, however, will find The Singing Image of Fire an inspiring record. With a number of special guests, including pianist Frank Carlberg and guitarist Robert Lanzetti, Adler’s journey through the mystery and wonder of life is astonishing.
“We perform music that serves as a frame for ancient, sacred texts from the Middle East, India and the Far East,” Adler says.
With an abundant, lush literary flair, the Prana Trio ventures through profound pieces of poetry from Kukai, Kabir and Hafiz with reverence. The various pieces offer more than a simple framework, however, as Adler’s playing reinforces a sense of bold interaction with the sacred and the strange.
“Endless is My Wealth” makes use of this interaction by invoking space and silence as part of the equation. The piece is a rendition of Indian poet Shankarcarya’s meditation, using Kim’s brilliantly reflective vocals to express the message of eternal value. “I have nothing at all, and endless is my wealth,” the piece concludes.
Adler’s work on percussion offers reinforcements, gently infusing each piece with a rhythmic spinal column. His composition of “Out Beyond Ideas” transforms a Rumi poem into a brief, concise wonder of disconnection and his use of tablas confirms the piece’s volatility.
The Singing Image of Fire may offer its greatest gift in its accessibility, however.
Adler’s group never attempts to place the mysterious out of sight. Instead, there appears to be a conscious effort throughout these spiritual explorations to make things reachable and discernable. A simple splash of piano on “I Felt Love” reinforces this innovation.
As Kabir describes in an ultimate expression of life’s search for meaning: “I went searching for Him and lost myself.” In many ways, Prana Trio’s music provides a soundtrack for this search. Its profoundness never overwhelms its simplicity, making The Singing Image of Fire a beautiful and emotional reminder of our innate human imperfection in light of the universe’s deeper mysteries.