By Ryan Sparks - seaoftranquility.org
For nearly four decades French multi-instrumentalist Ariel Kalma has been pursuing his mission of melting the borders and boundaries between existing musical genres. He has achieved this primarily by merging world music with something that he calls 'space music' which incorporates elements of hypnosis and trance. His travels have taken him all over the world and together with his wife Ama, with whom he began his own label Music Mosaic many years ago, his aim has been to bring the world's diverse cultures a little closer together through music that promotes peace and unity.
Originally released in 2006 Spirit Dancer is a great starting point to get introduced to the boundless talents of this incredible artist. While Kalma's fantastic earlier recordings of the mid to late 70's are considered to be more ambient and avant-garde sounding works, his more recent albums such as Spirit Dancer and last year's Chillout India have found him concentrating on exploring the unlimited power and potential of said 'space music'.
Spirit Dancer features eleven majestic and mysterious sounding compositions which utilize the unique sounding percussive instruments such as log drums and dumbeck to propel these hypnotic and tribal sounding beats. In addition Kalma employs the sounds of a didgeridoo, an aboriginal wind instrument from Northern Australia on "Didgeridoo Groove". He naturally blends the deep, rich sounds of that instrument with his funky, saxwhaphone (saxophone with a wah-wah pedal) and atmospheric synth washes. "Fire Drums" invokes the Indian fire goddess Agni via an array of swift, multi-layered percussion and the odd frantic sax flourish, while "Tribal Trance Dance" with its native chanting, electronic beats and delicate flute make for an infectious combination to say the least. "Rhythm and Soul" has a great mellow, laid back vibe flowing through it and the mood is established quickly through it's supreme, relaxing percussive arrangement and dreamy synth textures. Perhaps no track on Spirit Dancer sums up this whole rich and magical experience better than the track "Ano Tao Inan". The story goes that when Ariel was recording this track in Hawaii he was trying to capture the American Indian spirit with a friend of his who is half Cheyenne. He was visited at his door one day by a Cree Indian whom he had never met . This individual heard their backing track and then recited an invocation in both his native language and English to accompany Kalma's drum tracks and the rest as they say is history.
I don't know how you'd even begin to classify or describe Ariel Kalma's inimitable musical vision amidst today's convoluted genre obsessed industry. All I can say is simply that Kalma's music makes me feel good and takes me away to a different place every time I hear it. Sometimes the destination is distinctly familiar while other times it's not. However, half of the joy and excitement of going along for the ride with Kalma is having no preconceived notions of where the music will take you or where it will end up. If you've never heard Ariel Kalma's music before you can start here with the brilliant Spirit Dancer or weave your way back to the beginning. Either way you can't go wrong because regardless of your choice you'll discover that endless hours of engaging and enriching music await you in the end.