Listening Room

15 Kamalah SankaranKamala Sankaram – Crescent
Kamala Sankaram; Andie Tanning; Ludovica Burtone; Joanna Mattrey; Mariel Roberts
Neuma 187 (


A Brief History of Progress



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Listening to Crescent by Kamala Sankaram it is important not to be blinded by her use of post-production techniques and devices. Focus your attention instead on the theme of the programme: the all-too-prescient demise of humanity by its own hand raised as if in a defiant gesture aimed at mastering the fate of spaceship earth.

The programme is divided into two works – Crescent, a hypnotic and lyrical chronology of the destruction of the beautiful ecology of the planet that has forgotten its celestial creation, terrestrial beauty and artful history. Cue the poetry of W.B. Yeats here. This is en route to destruction by manufactured scientific pseudo-progress. This demise is tracked by Sankaram’s mesmerising narration of her Heat Map series, to show how over the past hundred years or so the planet is hurtling towards destruction by global warming. This part of Sankaram’s programme ends with the clairvoyant, vocal-and-percussion driven song Crescent delivered in a sotto voce wail.

The second part of the programme features Sankaram’s voice emerging through a tremendous arco introduction by a string quartet. This work is entitled 5 Rasas (rasa means essence or taste). The pregnant vibrancy of the bowed introduction redolent of bells, electronica and field recordings of the twittering songs of birds, has a mystical pastoral quality. Sankaram’s vocals emerge from this prerecorded passage like an electrifying polytonal scherzo, performed with an almost mesmeric processional rhythm.

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