WHAT THE COVER LOOKS LIKE:
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Shinki Water is the first new solo offering from ML Wah since 2019's devotional double-shot Deep Roots and Heavenly Host. With soul-jazz, psych-funk, and dub-inspired bass guitar and percussion setting loose parameters for wide-ranging improvisations on guitar, melodica, and trumpet, the EP shares some common ground with those 2019 releases; in spirit and tone, its general vibe more closely resembles the warm summer breeze of the "No Slack" split with Herbcraft [Crash Symbols, 2018]. Despite these links, the music on Shinki Water stands apart in the otherwise mostly-acoustic ML Wah discography due to strong electronic currents and a joyful, wonder-filled tack that excludes nothing from an expanding field of inspiration.
The shift is evident immediately as opener “Jerry Roan” turns a backwards-looped bansuri sample into the apparition of a horse whinny, with brass beds and melodica locking into a new-jack-swing-inspired 808 gallop for something like a psychedelic take on Pure Moods sonics. The centerpiece 11-minute title track takes its time New Age Stepping through shifting sands, nodding to dub and dancehall visionaries past and present with shimmering melodica, reverb-heavy vocal stack drops, wah-wah'ed organ stabs, and psychedelically filtered electric guitar riffs. "Gremling" is pure celebratory uplift: layered handclaps and tambourine join a simple programmed drumbeat to propel ecstatically whirling, backmasked solos on guitar and melodica, finding perfect harmony with a wordless choir.
For those seeking a more direct branch from Deep Roots, the horn-led instrumental "Hold Fast to the Rose and Bloom" adds “Santal’s” heaping ladle of Arabic / cosmic jazz to the cauldron, tabla-grooving in a waltz meter and alternating between sections of feral 10-string guitar leads and the hook of a trumpet-blasted refrain - more Orkustra than Arkestra. And the shortest track by a mile--"Buckfull (Remix)"--pares the arrangement down to just a hand-percussion loop, bouncing bass, a few stray bell-tones, and a live-looped, echo-warped acoustic guitar, its notes flying wild and free on desert winds.
If earlier ML Wah recordings reflected devotion in terms of ceremony and initiation, Shinki Water honors the same mysteries in the form of celebration, encountering divinity through freedom of movement, a light heart, and open space. At times when all three feel impossible to come by, Shinki Water seeks to hold the vision.
CreditsMusic by ML Wah.
Performed, produced, and mixed by Matt LaJoie, summer 2020 at home in Portland, Maine, USA.
RD-8, percussion, bass guitar, 6- and 10-string acoustic guitars, electric guitar, melodica, trumpet, bansuri, Rheem Mark VII organ, voice, FX
For Shinki, the Gremlings, and the Fae.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS
Lazy Days, Hazy Moments & Dancing to a Slower Groove