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Music Review: Haale – No Ceiling

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This CD is a reminder of what the music in the 1960s was. To me, the music of the '60s was an experiment in our musical capabilities, pushing the limits, stretching the boundaries, finding a sound that shouldn’t work, but does, wondrously. A breaking of the mold, if you will, of the constraints that periodically take over a sound, or a routine, or a schedule, until it becomes a steady regimen of SSDD, same stuff, different day.

The '60s were a revolution in music come to life, allowing, encouraging, pushing musicians to blend conga and tabla with screaming guitars, flute melded with rock in the way only Jethro Tull could do it, J-Plane’s lighthearted drifting into sinister psychedelia, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s tragic enlightenment of San Francisco sounds of personal and environmental awakening, the Beatles and Donovan and Mike Love visiting the Maharishi, a classical violin in counterpoint to hard rock guitars in the way only The Flock could do it.

No Ceiling is all of these things and more, poured into a 10-cut CD, brought to a boil, then simmered slowly until the water becomes imbued with the flavors of everything that followed it into the cauldron: the spices, the vegetables, the nurturing, or in this case, the chords, the notes, the voice, the instrumentation, the artistry. After a few hours you have a filling and satisfying and sustaining repast, except this CD is a feast for the ears and the mind, rather than the palate.

The CD opens with a Middle Eastern flavor, so when you hear the voice begin singing in English, it’s a small surprise. The first cut, “Middle of Fire,” is evocative of a paean or a love poem to Gaia. After the first three minutes, it takes on a Peter Gabriel flavor, ending in a swell of voice and instruments. The second cut, “All These Miles,” again begins with a distinct Middle Eastern flavor, while the third cut, “Off Duty Fortune Teller,” is reminiscent of a light-hearted, amusing, yet deep, Suzanne Vega. “Chenan Mastam” returns with the flavor of a psychedelic Persian symphony, followed by the title cut, which begins with a Santana-esque flourish, then quickly moves into a dramatic Persian-influenced celebration of freedom.

Winston Churchill once said, referring to Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” The same applies to the Middle East, in bold. Or, as Haale said: “One day I'm walking along and I hear someone laugh in the street and it sounds like walnuts cracking on a grave and then that becomes a song three months down the line.” These descriptions are particularly exemplified in “Mast,” and “Ay Dar Shekasteh.”

Tracks seven through nine are much more Middle Eastern in flavor, tempo and rhythm, which further reinforces the riddle-mystery-enigma aura. While the final cut, “Town on the Sea,” begins with a simple Western-sounding tune, it slowly coalesces into a blend of Western and Eastern sounds, ending in a distinctly Eastern flavor. An all-in-one exemplification of the CD.

This CD is what all World Music should strive to be, displaying the aroma and beauty and simplicity of a potpourri. Haale is currently on tour nationwide and internationally, so be sure to check her website (www.haale.com) for a performance location near you. Don’t miss it!

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About Lou Novacheck