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  • Jonathan Widran


In his fascinating liner notes for Solar Wind, a trippy, offbeat and purely improvised avant-garde collection combining the collective history, intuitive talents and just about anything goes mindset of of Robert Dick (flutes, piccolo, voice), Joelle Leandre (contrabass, voice) and Miya Masaoka (koto, percussion), writer Mark Hannaford talks about the challenge of finding words to describe improvised music.

He then proceeds to emote quite insightfully about a set of 15 way out tracks that create a combination of instruments and techniques that have probably never been merged before. Had I listened on its original release date of March 1, I might have used terms like “weird,” “mindbending” and “odd but if it’s your thing, great…”

But now, in the age of coronavirus and the resulting, messy, challenging shift of global consciousness, I realize the trio has, quite coincidentally, crafted the perfect dystopian soundtrack, with equal measures of ominous gloom (contrabass), plucky resolve (koto) and ultimate (though widely scattered) optimism via Dick’s fluttering flute oddities.

If a psychologist could musically map our collective tension during this time, it would look and sound something like Solar Wind. We may all be “Prepsychotic Philosophers,” living now “On Time’s Edge,” but ultimately, we remain as inhabitants of this planet “Friends of the Sun” who will ride the tide and bask in those rays again. Can’t say you’ll exactly enjoy it, but you might find solace that there is unusual music out there that meets our moment.

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