Leah Kardos: Feather Hammer - a journey into new worlds of what music can be
Classical music is so much more than dead white composers. Leah Kardos is living proof of what it not only can be, it moves toward what is may be in the years ahead.The music is a mixture of styles and influences from Debussy to Tavener, Shostakovich to Bryars with pop elements from Bowie, Brian Eno and The Flaming Lips. From this rich tapestry we are given a sonic-scape that transports us into a distant world of colors, shapes and sounds like nothing I've heard before. At times the music is opaque and difficult to see clearly all that's happening, while at other times there is a clear lyric glide to the musical lines that float over the listener with utter beauty.
Feather Hammer begins with "The Waiting" and an ethereal strumming of the strings within the piano. Eventually, the effects of distant "steps" appear as we wait and wonder where we are, who is coming and what will happen. This isn't the music of Psycho where we dread the next scene, but rather a nice blend of calm anticipation mixed with interested excitement. "DFACE (Pratice this video)" follows with minimalist piano figures beneath elements of an instructional 'video' about aural music learning. As the speaker in the video continues, the music builds as we "learn" how music explodes in our minds and becomes part of our inner consciousness. The music becomes internal, reflexive.
Further down the playlist is "Dura Mater" which starts like a chant, but then quickly combines piano internals, piano lines, effects, and a pulse taking it from the ancient into the thoroughly modern. There are ghosts of the past, but overshadowed by the beat of a modern thought. The title refers to the outer most layer of the brain which is where this music hovers, never quite settling into the depths of understanding, but rather lurking just beneath the surface.
The next to last track is "Apology," a heart-aching reach into what we might want, might wish for, yet won't happen. For whatever reason, the moment for those wishes and dreams are gone. I'm sorry.
Feather Hammer ends with a reprise of "The Waiting" but not a rehash of the same thing. This is a fresh new track with echos of the first. Even when you play the first and last track side by side, there is a wonderful continuity and uniqueness to each track; they bookend the album delightfully well. It is as if we're waiting for Leah's music to come to life and yet waiting for the next album already.