Archive for July, 2010
Yasmine Tamara‘s new album is part of my interactive journey to take up Goethe’s advice of a daily dose of poetry, art and music as essentials in balancing beauty. In her new album Auguries of Innocence I marvel at the fantastic cover art, the vocal stylings of Europe’s best kept secret and the timeless work of some of the best poets of the Victorian era.
Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) was full of really strong emotions and opinions. His poetic works articulate the misery he felt as part of the daily ‘drudgery’ of life as a school inspector for Her Majesty’s Schools. Whilst being remembered as affable, it is said that his work reflects his wrestle with the reconciliation of psychological isolation. What was it that would drive a man who loved to express himself and referred to as ‘one of the most delightful of companions’ to articulate this:
As the kindling glances,
Queen-like and clear,
Which the bright moon lances
From her tranquil shpere.
As the sleepless waters
Of a lonely mere
On the wild whirling waves
Shiver and die.
As the tears of sorrow
Mothers have shed
Prayers that tomorrow
Shall in vain be sped.
When the flower they flow for
Lies frozen and dead
Falling on the throbbing brow,
fall on the burning breast
Bringing no rest.
My guess…the cruelty of disease (Scarlett fever, Tuberculosis, and Influenza as well as the other social nasties like Syphilis amongst the lower classes of the morally promiscuous) and the social condition. Arnold traveled a significant amount for work purposes and this exposed him to the conditions of the masses that are likely not to have been ever-presenting in a tranquil genteel English countryside. He coped with what he experienced by a certain dark and pointed prosaic style.
Yasmine Tamara gives these words a special voice in her song The Voice.
“So sad and with so wild a start
To this deep-sobered heart
SO anxiously and painfully
So drearily and doubtfully
And oh with such intolerable change
Of thought, such a contrast strange
O forgotten voice, the accents come.
Like wanderers from the world’s extremity
Unto their ancient home.”
As a man of faith, perhaps Arnold reconciled the mire and toil with a sense of homecoming and completion and perhaps relief. Relief similar to the feeling he experienced when he returned back to his massive family of 8 after weeks abroad on business, the eyes of the fraying youth he experienced within the schools he inspected and the streets that housed them in Victorian England.
Yasmine Tamara’s rock anthem gives life and energy and perhaps poses a celebration at the opposing end of the spectrum. It reminded me of ”We are the Champions” and I could picture this song sung by Freddy Mercury. The song’s instrumental elements show clever arrangement and movement as it oscillates from loud and rough to finite and tender. It’s an upside down song that takes the listener on a beautiful journey between the disparity and light and all the stages in between.
Let me know what you think of it.
Poetry has been recently repurposed by one of Europe’s best kept secrets. She’s much nicer than Tina Arena although you would swear by the voices they are related. On my recent visit to Montreux Jazz Festival I had the inherent pleasure of meeting Yasmine Tamara, a songstress whose work today inspires me. Her new album, titled Auguries of Innocence: Book of Poetry is a rare gem. Yasmine Tamara’s executive producer who also happens to be her husband and keyboard maestro Peter G. Rebeiz, wrote a very entertaining and philosophical forward to the album that gives explanation of to the audio feast that unfolds with every song. For those curious enough to research the album, do read the insert booklet – it gives amazing depth the work.
In short, the famous Balik Farm in the Swiss Alps where the album was recorded was purchased from a fine German stage director named Hans Gerd Kubel. Hans sold the house to Peter Rebeiz with some of his famous library of poetry in situ under the proviso that Peter keep the books and the library as they were. Peter wanted one day to move the volumes of poetry and literature to a place of storage to which Hans Kubel refused. Kubel told Peter that a little poetry would not hurt him, and then quoted Goethe – one of Kubel’s favorite German poets.
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that order that worldly cares do not obliterate the sense of the beautiful that God has implanted in the human soul.” (Goethe)
Kubel further mused that perhaps he could one day return to the farm, and do read a selection of the work with Peter accompanying him on the piano and the music recorded in the recording studio that Rebeiz had purposed to build on the property. Sadly, he died a few months later after the proclamation of intention and with him his dream of the melding of music and poetry at the beloved Balik Farm.
Several years later, Yasmine Tamara and her husband Peter were relaxing in the famous ‘library’ after a session in the now well established recording studio. She picked up one of Kubel’s precious books and began reading aloud. It was a poem entitled “Two Red Roses Across the Moon”, written by William Morris in 1858. To Yasmine Tamara, it sounded like a perfect song title for a blues number, and this was the beginning of the legendary album which I have been captivated by.
Cry of the Children is one very powerful track. Yasmine Tamara’s voice is powerful as she gives life to the the original work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The music box intro gives a certain Tim Burton magic to what her voice delivers. You almost imagine Johnney Depp popping up somewhere, in depressed London browns and greys a bit dirty from the streets and the hardships of life in the Victorian era.
“Do you hear the children weeping, oh my brother
Ere the sorrow comes with year?
Leaning their young heads against their mothers
And Cannot stop – stop their tears.
They’re looking up with their pale and sunken faces
And their looks are sad to see
Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal shadows
Down the cheeks of infancy.”
The gospel choir on the chorus gives an even greater interpretation of this classic prose. You can taste a Georgia Sunday morning in the vocal mix and almost a trickle of sweat from the fifth pew of the Baptist church. It’s good. It’s really good.
This album is my first taste of Yasmine Tamara’s work and it has had five rotations (full album plays) in the five days. The life she breathes into the work of some of my favourite poets is delightful. The musical scores and instrumentals (violins, ripping guitars and the nuances of arrangement) get more interesting every time I listen again.
What are your thoughts on her work?
Please leave me a comment or message. I will answer/respond.
In the 80s a singer named Basia was very popular. Today her career still shines brightly with jazz trio with Matt Bianco. One of my favourite Basia classics is one called Yearning. Yearning is such a romantic word. Intense desire.
The lyrics refer to those who have a case of longing and travel great distances however remain ‘homeless in their hearts’. It makes me wonder as the world gets smaller, relationships get closer, yet disconnect is still ever present and we arrive at it much faster that in previous decades. Are we networking ourselves to into emotional homelessness?
What do you think?