Elder Ones - Vocals, Harmonium, Synthesizer, Compositions
Sometimes the eye of a storm can draw upon the chaos around it, taking on its energy and consolidating it for use. Something like that is going on in Elder Ones, the quartet led by the vocalist and harmonium player Amirtha Kidambi. She creates drones on the harmonium — an old, air-powered keyboard — and coaxes her bandmates into ripping them apart. Then her voice funnels that energy out in a scorching beam. In its best moments, it’s like a mix of a Cuban sonero’s citrusy cry and a riot grrrl yowl. - New York Times, Giovanni Russonello
The forthcoming release From Untruth builds upon the bedrock foundation of Kidambi's previous compositional and conceptual work with Elder Ones, while forging uncharted territory. After a journey into wordless abstraction on Holy Science, Kidambi felt the urgency of the political moment required a direct and verbal call to action. The lyric fragments in "Eat the Rich", "Decolonize the Mind", "Dance of the Subaltern" and "From Untruth" critique power structures of capitalism, racism, colonialism and fascism, distilling heavy post-colonial theory into concentrated visceral battle cries. The instrumentation adds a layer of technology as a metaphor for modernity, with Kidambi on analog synthesizer and Max Jaffe's drumming talents extended to electronic Sensory Percussion. The frenzied improvising of Matt Nelson on soprano sax and gravity of Nick Dunston on bass, anchor the music in the tradition of free jazz, while it pushes into new futurist realms. The aesthetic seamlessly reels from modal meditation, atonal expressionism, free improvisation and melodic invention, to unabashed bursts of punk rock energy. This is Elder Ones at an unadulterated breaking point; on the edge of a knife that cuts.
Mary Halvorson's Code Girl - Vocals, Improvisation
Code Girl is the quintet project of composer and guitarist, Mary Halvorson. “The album, just out on Firehouse 12 Records, features Halvorson and Kidambi alongside Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Michael Formanek on bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. These are all musicians rooted in the jazz tradition, though hardly constrained by it. Mobilizing here around a batch of songs bearing Halvorson's original lyrics, something for which she isn't widely known, they create a music staunchly unplaceable in style — art-rock? avant-prog? — and mysterious in several other respects.” - NPR, Nate Chinen
Amirtha Kidambi + Lea Bertucci Duo – Voice, Improvisation
The new duo of Amirtha Kidambi on vocals and Lea Bertucci on analog electronics, finds new territory in antiquated sounds. In the duo, Bertucci manipulates Kidambi’s voice through tactile methods with analog tape machine, by pressing on the reels and physically touching the tape. Kidambi reacts in turn with a vocal arsenal of timbral techniques, creating a literal visceral feedback loop of noise, processed, and amplified voice. The explorations are reminiscent of early electronic music and musique concrete, with the added element of live improvised performance.
Lines of Light - Compositions, Vocals
Lines of Light is the vocal quartet of composer-vocalist Amirtha Kidambi and is inspired by the title of the late Muhal Richard Abrams’s Levels and Degrees of Light and medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen’s reference to her vision of God as “The Shade of the Living Light”. The group brings together, female vocal powerhouses, featuring Jean Carla Rodea, Anaïs Maviel and Emilie Lesbros, the composition is a structured improvisation, intended to allow each vocalist to exercise maximum creativity within the larger framework of the piece. Following the Inauguration of Donald Trump, Kidambi assembled the group to freely improvise in order to form community with female musicians from diverse backgrounds in a time of extreme vulnerability and uncertainty. Developed out of Kidambi’s long-term vision to elevate vocalists within experimental music, as they have been historically marginalized due, in part, to the gendered nature of jazz and the avant-garde, Lines of Light showcases the increasingly high caliber of vocalists currently working in New York. The piece was premiered for Kidambi’s Artist Residency at Roulette in 2018.
Seaven Teares – Vocals, Harmonium, Synthesizer
Seaven Teares is a quartet making dark, romantic music rooted in post-industrial folk, early music, chamber music and pop. The songs, which can be at once tender and forbidding, accessible and damaged, are centered on the vocal pairing of songwriter Charlie Looker (Extra Life, Sculptress) and vocalist Amirtha Kidambi (Sequins and Skeletons). Seaven Teares was formed in 2010 featuring Robbie Lee (Howling Hex) on woodwinds, guitars and synth, and percussionist Russell Greenberg (Yarn/Wire). The bands’ mostly acoustic sound brings together a number of disparate influences: dark post-Industrial folk (Death In June, Current 93), 1960’s co-ed pop folk groups (Mamas and the Papas, Ian & Sylvia), the drones and textures of modern composition and experimental improvisation, and the cold alien vocal harmonies of Gothic era liturgical music. The seven slow-burning songs shift between abstract raga-like meditations and straight melodic hooks, set against acoustic guitars, dark synth ambience, vibraphone, bells, and occasional harsh electronics, as well as authentic Medieval pump organ and recorders.
Seaven Teares’ released their debut record Power Ballads on Northern Spy in 2013.
Darius Jones, Elizabeth-Caroline Unit
The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit is comprised of four singers (Amirtha Kidambi, Jean-Carla Rodea, Sarah Dyson, Kristin Slipp) of varied vocal backgrounds. Influences of the group range from Gospel groups, to Sun Ra and Stockhausen, from the compositional mind of Darius Jones. The group represents the four guardian women of the Man’ish Boy from the planet Or’gen in the epic mythology by Darius Jones and Randal Wilcox, adapted for graphic novel.
The Oversoul Manual is a collection of etudes written for the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit. The etudes are vehicles to teach each vocalist the linguistic and sonic vocabulary of an alien birthing ritual. In this alien culture, having a child is done with the spiritual agreement of three or more humanoids. Each female alien gives birth to some aspect of the genetic makeup that forms the child. The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit are the proud mothers of a son called Man'ish Boy. Their son was taken away from them when he was born, so now they travel the universe searching for him. The birthing ritual can take years for some units. The creation of Man'ish Boy took seven. He is very important to the cultural and spiritual development on his planet, Or'gen.
The Oversoul Manual record is available on Aum Fidelity Records.
Robert Ashley’s CRASH Band
Robert Ashley’s CRASH band comprises of vocalist/composer Gelsey Bell, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Aliza Simons, vocalist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Paul Pinto, vocalist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Brian McCorkle and vocalist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Ruder. The group was lovingly referred to by Robert Ashley as “The New Band”. The group formed to premiere and perform Bob Ashley’s final opera Crash under the guidance of Mimi Johnson, Tom Hamilton, Dave Moodey and Alex Waterman for the Whitney Biennial in 2014. The band will continue to perform Crash from now until they can no longer speak. The passing of Robert Ashley from the earthly realm into the ether occurred during rehearsals for the piece in March of 2014. The band misses him terribly and owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude for all of his creative energy and passion.
TONGUES: Indian Traditional and Experimental Music
TONGUES brings Indian traditional music outside of cultural enclaves, providing access to a broader audience and musical community. In the series, Indian music provides a unique context for listening to experimental music, some of which draws influence from the traditions both musically and philosophically. A diverse group of experimental performers and traditional Indian musicians are presented side-by-side to inform listening and create harmonious understanding, crossing over both practices. Tongues is interested in drawing deep connections between these disparate forms of expression, rather than presenting superficial fusion. It is an effort to promote dialogue between communities to foster artistic growth and provide basis for future endeavors in curation and potentially a new way forward into collaboration. TONGUES has been presented at The Silent Barn DIY art and performance space in Bushwick, chosen specifically for its dedication to community building and diverse adventurous programming, and Issue Project Room. TONGUES has featured performers Mat Maneri (viola), Ashvin Bhogendra (Carnatic vocalist), Brian Chase (percussionist/drummer), Robbie Lee (reeds), Rajna (mridangam) and Anjna Swaminathan (violin), Dada Tapan Kanti Baidhya (Dhrupad vocalist), Shubhangi Sakhalkar (Hindustani vocalist), Che Chen (guitarist), Nivedita Shivraj (Carnatic vocalist) Matana Roberts (saxophonist/composer) and Peter Evans (trumpet/improviser).