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Jade Warrior - Floating World CD (album) cover


Jade Warrior


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.69 | 126 ratings

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5 stars Floating World came out originally in 1976. At the time, there was very little precedence for it although the release of their two lost albums in 1998 showed that the band had worked on some of the ideas previously. It is widely regarded as one of the first world music recordings. Indeed, its influences and instrumentation are widely diverse, yet it all becomes an extended flowing piece which, despite the occasional bursts of sound, is amazingly coherent. Individual tracks are easily noticeable and titled, but the whole functions as one suite of multiple and often contrasting sections. Both Duhig and Field play many different instruments, along with a host of guest musicians. This is truly a studio recording, and I am not aware of any attempt to recreate any of it on stage. The album opens with some mood setting ambience, titled Clouds, which is shattered by the trademark Jade Warrior explosion of sound. The listener is lulled into a calm mood for a brief period and then woken up suddenly. JW had long used such methods, so anyone familiar with any of their music should not be surprised at this. I think it is actually kind of a Zen thing, a musical rendition of satori, which comes like a lightening bolt out of a clear blue sky. We then get the jazzy jam of Mountain of Fruit and Flowers, a re-recording of one of the tunes lost for decades following the demise of Vertigo. This is followed by the gentle Waterfall, which wafts and wanders. Great acoustic guitar by Tony! A little bit of weird noise leads to Red Lotus, one of JW's most powerful pieces. This song rocks with power and majesty, reaches a crescendo, and then fades out with a rather magical flute section. Not to be missed! The original side two opens very much like side one with another version of Clouds. From there we get two quiet pieces, Rainflower and Easty, where Duhig introduces a magnificent guitar sound and style he frequently used on later recordings. This style has its precedence in earlier recordings, but here he has perfected it. The sound is multi-layered, melodic, and evocative of distant clouds on the sea's horizon. Then we get Monkey Chant. You have not heard anything until you have heard Monkey Chant. The piece is based on the actual Monkey Chant performed by Balinese villagers. The chant itself is an exercise in unity and sung by men only. The film Baraka depicts it briefly and I highly recommend you see it. Besides the Monkey Chant, it is a beautiful film. So, on top of the Balinese chanting, which has its own unique rhythms and tropes, once heard it cannot be forgotten, we have a very dynamic sequence of JW sound explosions and some incredibly fiery lead guitar by former JW alumnus and Tony Duhig's brother, David Duhig. Like the original chant, once heard, this cannot be forgotten either. A calmer piece, Memories of a Distant Sea follows, and we need it. The title is apt. The album wraps with Quba, a piece that encapsulates much of what we have already heard. The dramatic end and brief words spoken by a woman caps the album off. The musical journey is complete. No more needs to be played, but I have a little bit more to say. My praise of Duhig may sound like he is the primary force behind the album, but that would not be true to the case. There are many layers to the music here, and for every lead there are countless supporting parts. Nor does Duhig take all the leads. Jon Field comes to the forefront just as often. We can safely say this version of Jade Warrior is a collaboration, that neither person has a role over the other. Floating World is truly a masterwork, one that transcends genre and challenges description. Sure, we can identify this section as rock, or that as jazz, or this or that, but to apply those depictions to the album as a whole would do it a tremendous injustice. If the same old guitar-keyboard-bass-vocal arrangement is boring you, try this. Here, instruments are used purely to generate a particular sound and feel. This is music at its best, beyond type. After decades of listening to this album, I still find new dimensions and characteristics. What better praise is there than that?
Progosopher | 5/5 |


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