Wednesday 8 May 2013

ArHai - Lets Get Lost

Adrian Lever - Tambura
It is not often I feel lost, or get lost.
With a good sense of direction and hopefully being an observant fellow I am not accustomed to that dead swell in the stomach or the gravity defying sweats that swell the blood in thundering temples.
Is it a good thing to lose oneself?
Well yes is the answer, and I lost everything with ArHai at Rich Mix last Saturday (04/05/2013).

A master of London's transport network, working the buses, tube and trains to my advantage I arrived in good spirits and of stable mind. Alert and darting, my gaze absorbed the clues I would need for the rest of the evening and to help write this of course. I searched for traces of the two protagonists, Adrian Lever & Jovana Backovic and the stage revealed plenty of leads amongst which sat a tambura, dulcimer, keyboard, electronic boxes and a bodhran secreted in the shadows.

Sebastian Merrick
I was welcomed in the pit of the venue by Sebastian Merrick, tonight's promoter. His easy smile settled me but I was eager for more information and was disarmed when he said, "I'm not totally sure what to expect myself tonight, I've been burning the candle at both ends with other projects and rather left this performance to evolve itself."
I suspect this wasn't quite true because as the atmosphere gently bubbled he leapt onto the stage to introduce the support.

Gokce Kiliner
Gokce Kiliner is one cool cat. Playing the guitar and languidly introducing her tunes, she never once broke sweat. Her playing was of the plodding unnerving kind, the slow strums felt like footsteps on an empty road. More than once I felt a chill of Lynchian delight as Rich Mix's red and green lights reminded me of my lonely late night retreats from music venues, crossing intersections, accompanied only by the winking of silent traffic signals.

Jovana Backovic
Kiliner's set revealed nothing of what was to come so I asked the DJ, Vince Millett from 'The Secret Archive of the Vatican'. Now this man should know some secrets, no one has kiss-and-told on this most covert of organisations. Unfortunately as he pressed his mouth to my ear the main act ArHai immerged.

Adrian Lever is unusual for a public performer, a tall slim introverted figure he most resembles a heron, planted in his spot with occasion movement from one leg to another. He exudes calmness and is devoid of aggression or machismo. His right hand on the Tambura is quite the opposite, frantically grating an imaginary coleslaw, the tone of the instrument is light and steely. Accomplished like a master acupuncturist, you flinch as his needling notes assail your ears only to find you're achieving a new state of ethereal being.

Tad Sargent - Bodhran
In contrast Jovana Backovic's voice has the best qualities of a darkened room on a summer's day, soothing and disorientating. In a long red robe with sleeves that stretched to her knees I was transported to Mongo, where Ming The Merciless' daughter Princess Aura weaved a heady mix of beauty and magic over me.

Despite a long association with Jazz and my recent 6 month residency at folk venue Twickfolk I was totally out of my depth. As the tunes washed over us all in the dark depths of Rich Mix, I found myself more and more lost. Whether this was a totally positive experience I am not sure, all I know it was a powerful one!

Tom Arthurs - Trumpet
We were given a lifeline of percussion when Lever and Backovic introduced their first guest, Tad Sargent, who rescued us from the effective but dripping projected visuals. It resulted in some clarity for this album launch, their interpretation of 'Beneath the Tree' became a focal point on what was a beautiful yet intangible landscape.

It only got better with the addition and swell of Tom Arthurs on trumpet and we were treated to a strong determined finale to tonight's proceedings. Despite a little indecision amongst the quartet, Arthurs helped steer us homeward and for me personally into a more familiar and beautiful territory.

Only after getting lost can you appreciate both the length of your unshackling and the path you have taken.
If in Ralph Waldo Emerson's words “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Then Life had blindfolded me, spun me around several times and hand in hand we have walked deep into the Balkan sunset.


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