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Review

Irwin Block, The Gazette, February 20, 2009

Just as the Vietnam War inspired Billy Bang’s brilliant reflection on the conflict (Vietnam: The Aftermath), avant guitarist Rainer Wiens was moved after a visit in 1991 to the Karen hill tribe heartland in Burma to reflect musically on their battle with a tyrannical regime. The result is this splendid suite of six pieces that evokes the sounds and sonorities of that southeast Asian environment, with Wiens fitting in harmonically on the West African kalimba. Traditional Chinese flautist Shuni Tsou and Frank Lozano on western flute imitate bird-like sounds before the music becomes more threatening and brooding, with Jean René on viola leading the way with brilliant playing on themes that are menacing without being mournful. His 11-minute ballad, A complicated Sadness, is an outstanding statement. Percussionist Ganesh Amandan and drummer Schneider create rhythmic combinations that could be mistaken for indigenous while retaining their New World verve. It all ends on a hopeful note. Five stars out of five.

The result is this splendid suite of six pieces that evokes the sounds and sonorities of that southeast Asian environment