Natalie Rose LeBrecht Mandarava Rose

[GALTTA; 2019]

Styles: devotional songs
Others: Ah∞

“Ah!” is an exclamation! Of bliss and the memory of a smile. It is a shiver, a sigh. It expresses, it breathes, caresses or seethes. No more is it merely a word than can be said without being overcome in its saying, as the bird does not merely fly, but also gives itself to the air beneath its wing. A flight without fleeing, it is its insurgent impending outside of itself. It is just like this: Ah! It is much too much.

And just like that, Mandarava Rose, an album of devotional songs dedicated to Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda by the heiress of freak-folk who has returned (after 15 years since a release in her name) to gift us its opening flourish of “Ah,” begins with a flourish, as in a tragedy or as in love, in their wounds, their tenderness both, or, perhaps, merely in a contended sigh that says, Ah, if only could I remain here, in this moment for a while, so stays, so, swaying, the moment extends to enfold you, so the flower welcomes the light it leaves.

A flourish as of the piano under the fingers of Popol Vuh’s Florian Fricke, aching at the advent of Hosianna Mantra. Before Herzog and after Fricke’s Moog passed into the keeping of Klaus Schulze (though it would reappear in Tangerine Dream’s “Birth of Liquid Plejades,” the stark, foreboding opener of 1972’s Zeit), Popol Vuh’s Komische mysticism would find on “Ah!” a stillness saturated with grace that might disclose the most perfect purity of prayer. It flutters, it hovers, and weightlessly it expands from merely a trick of the light to an adornment of the depths.

“Rishi Stars” begins with the same flourish, the same airy grace of a piano tingling your spine or dawn’s demure ingress. Flush with a sense of soothing centeredness, her voice spreads like blush under a rosy-fingered caress, as it mingles with a flute and a beaming expanse of bliss. In her voice’s ecstatic gentleness dissolves all awareness of anything but this moment, which we miss so dearly. And the breathy resonance and reverence of her organic synths that unite her piano’s sweeping waves and whorls, streaked with chimes and their wind, makes of this missing the infinite and incalculable rapture of rosebuds or petals, wavering upon the watery face of the void.

Like Popol Vuh’s saintly serenity that passed from komische Berlin-school synth-futurism to something less synthetic, denuded of plastic and artifice, synthesizing instead a spirituality of the soil, of the body, a multifaceted mysticism enwrapping enraptured medieval Christian hymns with the writings of Martin Buber, for instance, and Hinduism, Indian instruments converging with European orchestration, all under the voice of soprano Djong Yun, that very voice for which Fricke was searching on the synthesizer that he could now abandon as spurious now facing the flesh, in the purity and breadth of LeBrecht’s voice one hears this new age assuaged of excess, settling in the wavering of a seed before bloom.

One also hears traces of Alice Coltrane’s mantras like Turiya Sings and those divine cassettes that follow under the name of Turiyasangitananda (“the transcendental Lord’s highest song of bliss”), Divine Songs, Infinite Chants, and Glorious Chants. She who followed her cosmic jazz, gospel, and blues to the outer reaches of a radical transcendence of sound where it all shattered in a streaming display of light, freedom, and bright, shimmering abandon, only to find with the discrete serenity of synths and strings an utterly simple necessity, the center of a rose, the unfolding of light from lightness, breathed in the assurance of “Ah” Turiya’s dreaming, dreamless sleep, what the Mandukya Upanishad deems “the awareness of the Self in its single existence, in Whom all phenomena dissolve.”

LeBrecht’s 2003 debut — Warraw, which is still distressingly sparse with uncanny windchimes and clouded windows, gawking in the meantime at our seriousness from threadbare patchwork margins with gusts of candid frivolities — and both Imagining Weather and her releases under Greenpot Bluepot are closer with their freakiness and folkiness in tenor to a Księżyc or Paavoharju than any Devandra or Joanna. Yet, all this dissolves into the deliquescence of the calls and cries to come to life in “Rosebud & Lotus” or the trembling arpeggios of “Rivers” blooming as her voice flies away into an ocean of Ah’s.

It all dissolves into the flourish at the close of “Hear Today.” In this gloriously wistful ballad that could have dawned from the lips of Julee Cruise, if she and Angelo Badalamenti were to have privately released a New Age tape in the ocean instead of a red room, she sings so tenderly of what is missed so tenderly, a smile, a caress, a dawn that reunites all that which is lost into a quivering aria of Ah’s, so that, so tenderly, what, here today, is gone tomorrow, can be, gone tomorrow, hear today.

It all dissolves, it is all united in the fleeting flourish of a breath through the fleeting, fluttering keys of a flute, a dawn, a flourish, an Ah! like light and its leaving, which is only this thin glow, this shimmering sense of light being only what light has imparted, impressed before parting. A flourish and an embellishment, not a decoration (perhaps a decortication), but more longingly this lingering before the doorway, this malingering moment leaving you with its leaving you, will never leave you, will leave you the time of its leaving so as to weave together its passing, that substance of which you consist.

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