This is a little different for me. If you know me, I am very much entrenched in the metal genre, and its related sub-genres. Recently, my tastes and desires have expanded to include other styles of music, primarily film scores. You may be wondering what this has to do with the music at hand, but please, bear with me. Among the scores that I have very much enjoyed are Memoirs of a Geisha (not a Japanese composer, but the inspiration is there) and House of Flying Daggers. Beyond those two scores, I very much enjoy Asian cinema, and this brings me to the music.
I know very little about Asian music and the various instruments used to play it, but I know what I like. I like the different sounds and rhythms and feelings that are found in it. The music is beautiful and soaring and just a joy to listen to. This brings me to Elizabeth Reian Bennett.
Reian Bennett plays the shakuhachi, an end-blown bamboo flute. The instrument has a lot of history behind it, dating back to the days of the wandering monks of Japan. The music played is very spiritual in nature, and it can take a lifetime to master. Reian Bennett is the first female to be certified as a Grand Master of the shakuhachi, studying for years with Living National Treasure Reibo Aoki, the foremost instrumentalist.
Like I mentioned earlier, I have no real knowledge of this music or its history. I'm not even sure I have enough frame of reference to review this music. Still, it is hard not to be affected by it. The music lends itself to meditation and reflection.
On the surface, the music seems to be very simplistic, but the more you listen to it there is a lot of subtlety and variation. Her mastery of the instrument is stunning. The music seems to be much more interested in evoking an atmosphere and feeling through inflection and the emphasis chosen by the musician.