The Wire

The Wire profile of Ken Hyder reproduced below – with permission :-

(There are also some MP3 files at the Wire)


Percussionist Ken Hyder’s quest for the link between Improv and trance states has taken him on a transcultural journey, from Scotland to Siberia via south London, in pursuit of extra-musical values. Words: Will Montgomery.Photography: Tara Darby




“Why are people doing it?” asks percussionist Ken Hyder, raising his voice above the early evening burble of the south London pub. “It’s a question that I think should be asked of all musicians: ‘Why the fuck are you doing what you’re doing? What’s important to you?’ For me, it’s not the notes that are important. For example, when I played with Tibetan monks, I very quickly discovered that they had the same attitude: the music’s not so important. They don’t think of it as music, but as a spiritual practice. Does that have any effect on how you play? Of course it does – it has every effect on how you play. What is the function of it, and why are you doing it? These two things are supremely important.”

Although Hyder was associated in the early 1970s with the extraordinarily fertile early years of UK Improv, he has latterly sought to place himself within a self-forged lineage in which improvisation comes into contact with folk musics and ecstatic experience. He is as likely to talk of Bulgarian choirs as Albert Ayler, gagaku as John Coltrane, Gaelic psalm singers as Elvin Jones. Hyder’s quest has taken him into all kinds of musical relationships. Besides Tibetan monks, he has worked intensively over the past 35 years with Scottish, Irish, English, Russian, Brazilian, American, Italian, Tibetan, Japanese, Siberian and South African musicians. As a consequence of these encounters, he avoids musical credos, speaking always of dialogue and diversity, of attempts to interact with what you don’t yet know.

In Hyder’s vocabulary, ‘spirit’ is his term for a particular intensity of musical experience, one that eludes the impulse to order that he associates with the Western musical mind. It’s a trance state in which the performer reaches a different level of expression – and it’s something he sees in the music of many cultures. While for many the notion of cultural dialogue translates into limp, noodling compromises (what Hyder calls on his Website the “happy milkmaid” quality of World Music), Hyder mounts searching projects of musical communication that are built upon hard-edged terms of engagement. One of the banners under which he operates is that of ‘radical transcultural initiatives’ – and that radicalism is a core element of his work.

Hyder was born in Dundee, the son of a cobbler and a jute mill worker, in 1946. As a teenager in the 1960s, he found himself drawn to the rapt musical worlds of Coltrane and Ayler. Drummers such as Elvin Jones and Sunny Murray soon became models. But he’d already had a grounding in Scottish folk music, and his boyhood ears had been affected by early exposure to ‘diddling’ – an east of Scotland form of vocal improvisation – and to his grandmother’s piano improvisations around Scottish folk material. Moving out of free jazz, free improvisation was to become Hyder’s driving passion, however, and in the late 1960s he moved to London and became part of the scene associated with the Little Theatre Club in London’s West End.

It was a hyperactive time for British music, and Hyder worked with such figures as pianist Keith Tippett, bassist/cellist Marcio Mattos, saxophonists Larry Stabbins and Elton Dean, trumpeter Harry Beckett, multi-instrumentalist Sylvia Hallett, and vocalists Phil Minton and Maggie Nicols. He also took over the drum stool from Robert Wyatt in the idiosyncratic Improv group The Amazing Band.

When he arrived in London, Hyder lost no time in signing up for lessons with one of the Improv scene’s prime movers, John Stevens. The older drummer helped set in train the kind of encounter between improvised music and folk musics that he has been engaged with ever since. “My transculturalism came from rediscovering my own culture,” recalls Hyder. “John was always turning me on to stuff that I’d never heard of or even considered. West African music, or Balinese music, for example. I remember him turning me on to Marvin Gaye. One day, though, he played this amazing record. It sounded African to me but it turned out to be ‘waulking’ songs from the Hebrides, where the women sit round a table trying to stretch the tweed. They have this work song…” Hyder breaks off to demonstrate, resuming, “It went from there. ”

Also, I remember reading an interview with Mingus,” he continues. “He said something like, ‘I don’t understand why European musicians are playing American jazz, because American jazz is urban folk music and Europeans have got plenty of folk music of their own.’ So I put that together with John pointing out what I didn’t know about my own culture.”

As he began to move away from the Improv laboratory of the Little Theatre scene, he set up Talisker, the best known of his early projects. Talisker were an attempt to establish a fusion between free jazz and Scottish folk music. Active for 20 years, the group had a shifting line-up that usually featured reeds players John Rangecroft and Davie Webster. Talisker released five albums, including the remarkable Land Of Stone, recorded in 1977 for the Japo label, the predecessor of ECM. That album set experimental vocalists Maggie Nicols, Brian Eley and Phil Minton alongside folk singer Frankie Armstrong. Assembled from an extremely unusual sound palette and deftly shifting between idioms, Land Of Stone still sounds adventurous today.

Hyder was able to deepen his knowledge of the folk field when he received an Arts Council grant to research Scottish traditional music. In particular, he studied the music of the Western Isles and pibroch, the Scottish bagpipe lament music. Yet Hyder is cautious and sensitive about bringing his own sensibility, rooted in free jazz and the Improv avant garde, into contact with other apparently incompatible musics.

“If I’m playing with someone from another culture, there’s no point in me trying to play like they do,” he says. “What would be the point? If I’m playing with Tibetan monks, I’m not going to try and play like them. Their music’s hundreds of years old. The point is, you try to understand where they’re coming from. You try to play in such a way it makes sense together, with them being comfortable in their space, you being comfortable in your space. You make something that’s a new entity. When you play with people regularly, an understanding develops. It’s difficult to say if it’s Western or Eastern – it all gets mixed.”

Hyder means what he says when he talks about playing regularly – he has tended to form longterm musical relationships. The K-Space trio, featuring Siberian bass overtone singer Gendos Chamzyryn, for example, have lasted around nine years. But his longest-running and most important musical collaboration is with that trio’s multi-instrumentalist and composer Tim Hodgkinson, best known for his work with revered Rock In Opposition pioneers Henry Cow.

Hyder and Hodgkinson first started playing together in 1978, having met at a Music For Socialism weekend in Battersea and discovered that they lived very near each other. Together they set up The Wandsworth Street Municipal Orchestra, a big band that used to play at political demonstrations. They also ran another improvising orchestra, called The Orchestra Of Lights. However, it is in intensive two-way rehearsal that their musical relationship has really been forged. “Whether or not we had any gigs coming up we have been playing together – rehearsing – every two or three weeks since 1978,” says Hyder. “For a whole year we played nothing but Monk tunes without playing the heads to sharpen up the improvisation. We had no intention of playing Monk in public. We’ve been through a lot of changes over the years, from playing acoustically to Tim playing with electronics and flat guitar, and me using voice and electronics as well as drums.

“The other thing that’s been valuable,” he continues, “is that that we had – and have – a pretty strong habit of argument in the Scottish sense of the word, by which I mean intense, rigorous discussion rather than using chivs [knives]. When we first went to Siberia we were asking all sorts of questions of ourselves: ‘Why are we going there?’ ‘What are we doing?’ ‘What is the purpose of the music?’ ‘What are we bringing to the situation?’ That kind of appraisal and reappraisal and self-challenging has gone on. It means that although we might disagree about some things, at the end of the process there’s quite a lot of agreement because we’ve argued it through. It’s meant that there’s a kind of closeness in the playing – a very quick, close-reaction thing.”

Since the early 1990s, Hyder’s great passion – developed alongside Hodgkinson, who trained as an anthropologist – has been Siberian shamanic music. For the two musicians, shamanic ritual appeared to offer an answer to some of the questions that their improvisation was throwing up – might the performer’s psychological state, for example, be more important than musical technique?

Shamanic practices had been vigorously suppressed during the Soviet era and were only just re-emerging when Hyder and Hodgkinson began to visit the vast Russian territory of Siberia, itself as large as Europe and the US put together. They have since travelled widely in the region, performing in all sorts of contexts, from open-air, open-country events, to community centre gigs. What really interested them was the improvisational and musical aspects of shamanic ritual, in which the shaman enters a trance state and uses drum and voice to intercede with the spirit world on behalf of the community or a specific individual.

As well as K-Space, the British musicians have formed a longterm group, Siberia Extreme, with eerie female shamanic vocalist Chyskyyrai, and they have played with Siberian musicians like throat singer Sainkho Namchylak, the first of the Siberians to make an impact in the UK in the 1990s. Hyder explains that in 1992 it was Namchylak who invited him and Hodgkinson to make their first trip to Tuva, the mountainous republic in southern Siberia. Once in Tuva, the pair began to learn throat singing and gave workshops in improvisation. Describing the experience, Hyder stresses that, although they set certain things in motion, he and Hodgkinson were making contact with an already active experimental music scene.

“When we arrived the craziest band was the one that Gendos was in [Biosynthesis]. It was like a Tuvan Sun Ra band – costumes and everything, with bits of Marc Bolan and James Brown thrown in,” he says. “There was a kind of bonding and we encouraged a lot of improvisation. It has had an effect, as musicians there are now more likely to improvise than before. As for Chyskyyrai, she was already extending the shamanic singing tradition of Sakha [a large Siberian republic] before we played with her. So you find in such places that while most musicians might either be playing Western rock or their folk tradition, there are small pockets of people playing out, avant garde stuff.”

The impulse behind the encounter with Siberian shamanism was a desire for greater control over the most intense – and apparently uncontrollable – aspects of music. In various musical contexts over the years, says Hyder, he has had a brief experience of a trance-like state that he’d never been able to summon at will. “With Talisker there’d be times in rehearsal when we’d have that little bit extra: ecstasy, spirituality, otherness, being in the zone, whatever you want to call it,” he expands. “It’d last for about 25 seconds. Sometimes you’d see a white light in front of you and it was like you were above where you were playing, looking down on yourself. For a long time I accepted the view that was around among a lot of jazz musicians at that time – that that this was something you couldn’t make happen and that it’d last as long as it lasted. Then I started thinking maybe it was possible to control this. Maybe it was possible to set things up so that there’d be a good chance of it happening. Maybe there was a way of dealing with it where it wouldn’t go away after 25 seconds, but would be sustained for a whole gig. When Tim and I first went to Siberia, we wanted to access this experience.”

The thinking for the two of them was that shamans were able to enter a trance state more or less at will during rituals. Hyder emphasises that the use of voice and drum by shamans is not primarily ‘musical’. The ritual nature of the occasion takes precedence and the Western idea of performance is entirely alien. So when Gendos Chamzyryn started shamanising onstage it was a highly unusual step. What the south London dwellers and the shamans shared, with very different goals in mind, was the pursuit of something essentially extra-musical.

“We were looking at shamans as having the closest parallels to musicians,” Hyder continues. “They have to get it on when they have to get it on, do the job when they’re asked to do it. We thought that there was something to learn from that. That’s what I mean by the importance of the extra, the spiritual dimension. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with God. Spirit in music is when you’re able to access another space, where you can play in ways that you wouldn’t normally be able to play in and that you would have a sense of freedom that you wouldn’t normally have.”

Hyder is well aware of the risk of fuzzy new-ageisms and flabby, pan-cultural pseudo-religious parallels when discussing shamanism and music. Yet for him, it’s simply the best available vocabulary for the wide-open experience he is seeking to pin down. This experience is bound up with another facet of the shamanic encounter with the ‘spirit world’ – a particular conception of rhythm that has become central to his way of making music. His approach is ‘polytempic’ – he’s interested, in other words, in the co-existence of different rhythmic patterns in a single musical piece. In its broadness, it’s almost a rhythmic shadow of the persistence of distinct cultural awarenesses in the music.

“Most music is monotempic in as much as it starts off at this tempo or that tempo and stays that way,” he elaborates. “It’s supposed to be bad musical practice if you speed up or slow down. Then you get polyrhythms. Like when Elvin Jones would be playing in a four and a six at the same time, and also throwing in bars of three. But the tempo’s still regular because that’s the way that music is. I was a big fan of Elvin and his playing influenced a lot of my playing when I was playing jazz. When I started listening to shamanic music, it was really quite odd. The tempo would speed up, quite impressively. Then it would slow down. And speed up and slow down again over only a few bars. On top of that, it would just collapse and there would be these accents that would be completely random.

“When I heard recordings of shamans doing that I thought, ‘Wow, this opens up a possibility – you can actually speed up and you can slow down regardless of what the other musicians are doing.’ Like Conlon Nancarrow, where one bit of the music is speeding up and the other one’s slowing down. If you’re doing that and you add in these random accents, there’s a kind of opening up of what you can do. If you listen to Albert Ayler with Sunny Murray, you realise that that’s what they were doing too. The effect is to give you this very light and airy quality. So it opened up a lot of possibilities that were nothing to do with the intentions of the shamans I was listening to.”

Hyder is, with great care, borrowing something from another culture and putting it to his own – albeit not dissimilar – uses. An awareness of the differing function of music in different cultures has been crucial. While he’d first assumed that shamans used polytempic drumming in an attempt to disorient the client (in a healing ritual, for example), when he began quizzing them about their activities, he learnt that this was not the case.

“When they’re using the drum and shamanising, they’re not doing it for the client at all,” he explains. “It’s not music. It’s not regarded as music and it’s nothing to do with the client. It’s actually a kind of loop which the shaman hears as representing how his or her spiritual energy is fluctuating inside. Rather like an electrocardiogram machine. Yet there were clear musical and extra-musical possibilities coming from it, so from my point of view it doesn’t matter whether it was their intention or not. It’s something to use.”

In a mid-90s article on shamanism and the Western avant garde, Hyder’s ally Hodgkinson teases out the wider responsibilities of their project: “The Western world is relentlessly imposing itself on all the other human worlds on this planet,” he writes. “As individuals, we can’t alter this process. But we can modulate what this world of ours is, we can ensure that the friction between worlds which should take place really does take place and that the other worlds are not simply crushed in silence… The point is that the friction should be real, that the touching surfaces should not be dissociated from their roots in social life, and that the impact between different musical cultures should therefore be thoroughly worked through. Only in this way can we avoid the kind of impressionistic World Music now being produced by some of our more careless contemporaries.”

This kind of thorough ‘working through’ marks Hyder’s approach to music generally. Yet, despite his taste for painstaking argument, he has little time for dogmatic musical positions. His work mixes up the polytempic with the accidental and with recognisable musical forms. He’s perfectly willing to countenance conventional melody, rhythm and harmony as part of a larger whole. It’s music with a large embrace and can best be heard in the latest K-Space release, Going Up. On the final track, for example, there are three drum kit parts on the go at once, all in different tempi.

The album incorporates recordings that go as far back as Hyder’s and Hodgkinson’s first visit to Tuva. Instead of compiling, say, a chronological document, they have reconfigured the recordings digitally, making a giant montage of different performances, in the open air and in concert spaces, in Western Europe and Siberia. Nothing is done to homogenise the widely varying acoustics of the recordings. The different times and places simply co-exist alongside one another. One piece contains material from 18 separate environments – nothing new for a sample-based or concrete project, but a departure for work rooted in folk or improvised music, where the replication of the actual performance event is usually the order of the day.

Hyder explains that the structure of the album is influenced by the esoteric theories of Russian astro-physicist Nicolai Kozyrev. “He believed,” he explains, “that time is not just time, but also a conduit for energy. There is a machine that produces something called ‘Kozyrev space’ – hence the name of our group, K-Space – where your time-energy continuum is bounced back to you. The idea is that if you get in the zone, in that space, you’re able to flit from future to present to past very quickly. So what’s wrong with hearing on the record something that was up a mountain in the Altai eight years ago and something that was recorded last year in the studio and another at a gig in Italy? Going Up is the most complete thing I’ve ever done, the nearest I could get to total music.”

On one of their trips, Hyder and Hodgkinson overcame a degree of scepticism to try out the Kozyrev machine, entering a spiral-shaped chamber that was sealed on the outside with a submarine-style wheel. The effect it had on them was clearly profound – and profoundly disorienting, with feelings of weightlessness and nausea – and it threw their thoughts on music and shamanism into a stew of theories on time, energy, magnetism and telepathy.

Hyder is very interested in the closeness of Siberian ritual to natural sound. For the shaman, attention to an inner state and to the natural world go hand in hand. He rails against the co-option of ideas of nature within Western music – in the classical music tradition, for example. These he sees as a means of applying a grid or metronome to something essentially non-systemic. He describes the affinity between polytempic music and the array of sounds one might hear in a Siberian forest. In his own work he strives to be open to the richness of ‘accidental’ sound in everyday situations. He talks, for example, of K-Space rehearsals in which all the musicians have done is open the windows and listen to what floats in.

“I’ve been to a lot of kamlanies, which is a kind of open-air shaman’s ritual,” he relates. “Very often things happen by coincidence. I remember one this summer where they were doing this thing out of town. When they’d finished – it was at the edge of a forest – there was this stillness that we were all very aware of. The background sounds had just disappeared. Then this flock of geese just flew up and circled over us in the sky. Sometimes these events happen like that – it makes you conscious of the randomness of things and the power of randomness. It’s the random, the unexpected, that leaves you with an impression.”

Perhaps it’s his early interest in the collective improvisation in Gaelic psalm singing, but it’s certainly the case that Hyder’s numerous groups share a powerful feeling of joint intent – whether the explosive trio he formed a few years ago with South African reeds player Ntshuks Bonga and Marcio Mattos; the curious avant folk rock group The Dynamix, with guitarist Jon Dobie and bassist Scipio; his duos with pianist Vladimir Miller or Russian Gypsy singer Valentina Ponomareva; or the meeting between Tibetan monks and his Bardo State Orchestra. Hyder has often tended to work with marginal players rather than the central figures in particular scenes. Out of these encounters – Mingus comes to mind again – he is often able to develop communal interactions of unusual directness and intensity. When I ask him about his choices of collaborator, he refers once more to the influence of John Stevens.

“There were a lot of musicians about in the early 1970s and there was a lot of playing,” he says. “There was a hunger for getting gigs to put into practice the ideas you were working on. One of the things John said to me about putting bands together was, ‘Go where the energy is’. Sometimes it might be better to have someone who’s got the energy and commitment rather than someone more accomplished on the instrument. Go where the energy is.”

* K-Space’s Going Up is out on Ad Hoc

The Wider Hyder

TALISKER LAND OF STONE (JAPO) 1977 Land Of Stone bounces around within a triangle that has bluesy jazz, Celtic song and improvised music at its points. Voice is a key element in the music. Some of the strongest passages are unaccompanied singing, which is remarkably raw and intense. The vocalists move comfortably between unison parts and improvised passages, and the balance between idiom and freedom is an endless source of tension in the music. The disparate styles are deftly knitted together, Hyder driving this unusual music with his crisp and melodic use of the kit.

KEN HYDER/TIM HODGKINSON/ VALENTINA PONOMAREVA THE GOOSE (MEGAPHONE/WOOF) 1992 Valentina Ponomareva, a well known Gypsy singer who was also active on the Soviet jazz/Improv underground, is another of the idiosyncratic avant-traditional female singers (along with Sainko Namchylak and Chyskyyrai) that Hodgkinson and Hyder have worked with. She specialises in super-fast articulation, delivering a succession of gabbled improvisations that make full use of the mouth’s architecture. Cries, moans and shouts sit alongside Hodgkinson’s razor-edged alto and the ebb and flow of Hyder’s open-ended percussion. A testing, often unsettling listen.

BARDO STATE ORCHESTRA WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS (IMPETUS) 1996 One of Hyder’s longterm projects, Bardo State Orchestra, with Marcio Mattos on bass and cello and Jim Dvorak on trumpet, have been going for more than 20 years. This album, one of only two Bardo releases, has the trio alongside a group of Tibetan monks, with whom they toured the UK in 1995. The monks chant lustily and use various wind instruments, and the music is further thickened with electronics and Hyder’s overtone singing. Unsurprisingly, given the above mix, it sounds like nothing else you’ll ever hear. What might have been an uneasy compromise becomes an enriching musical interaction.

KEN HYDER WITH MAGGIE NICOLS/ DAVE BROOKS & TALISKER IN THE STONE (IMPETUS) 1998 This album puts two of Hyder’s Scots music duos on alternate tracks. There aren’t many encounters between bagpipes and free music and it’s an extremely odd experience listening to Hyder with piper Dave Brooks (with whom he also recorded the Piping Hot album). Pipes tend to press buttons that are either militaristic or touristic; here they’re put to entirely different ends, notes bending and drones riding a bucking free jazz accompaniment and overtone singing. More amenable (and more immediately appealing) are the songs recorded with Maggie Nicols, with whom Hyder has been working since the Little Theatre days. Nicols makes virtuoso use of song form and her vocal presence is simply colossal. Particularly affecting are “Pibroch For John Stevens” and the lullaby “Smile In Your Sleep”.

KEN HYDER & VLADIMIR MILLER COUNTING ON ANGELS (SLAM) 2003 British pianist Miller, the son of Russian exiles, is leader of The Moscow Composers Orchestra. With Miller, Hyder has toured Russia and the two have recorded with Vladimir Rezitsky (of Jazz Group Arkhangelsk) as part of the trio Northern Lights. This is a tuneful release, switching easily between moods of introspection and high energy interaction. Miller explores little melodic cells incisively and opens up to more expansive statements. The insistent regular pulses that Hyder sometimes favours combine particularly well with Miller’s use of repetition. Hyder’s relationship to the piano recalls the mixture of sensitivity and assertiveness Max Roach brought to his work with Cecil Taylor and Mal Waldron. An energetic and energising encounter, at the jazzier end of Hyder’s work.


And the Wire’s Going Up review:- K-Space Going Up AD HOC CD Bear Bones (SLAM CD) the 2002 release by shamanic improvising trio K-Space has provided some of the richest and most absorbing repeated listening I’ve experienced from a CD in recent years. Potent, stimulating and uproarious music. Going Up, the sequel from Scottish drummer Ken Hyder, English multi-instrumentalist Tim Hodgkinson and Tuvan throat singer and percussionist Gendos Chamzyryn promises to be still more rewarding and illuminating through time. Above and beyond procedures of improvised music-making K-Space is a long-term research project. It was established nearly a decade ago, in the course of one of Hyder and Hodgkinson’s Radical Transcultural Initiatives, taking musical experimentation to rural communities in southern Siberia where they encountered Chamzyryn and found common ground.

For Going Up these musicians have superimposed performances from different occasions and places, some dating back to Hyder and Hodgkinson’s initial trip to Siberia in 1990, but also concerts staged in Western Europe. These recordings, with their disparate acoustic properties, are overlaid and overlapped to form dense sonic thickets alive with action and event, palpably embedded in the multidimensional flux of the world and lived social structures. Human voices conversing, footfalls on frozen ground, a blackbird singing, the sound of the wind or water, the crackling of wood in a fire, audience applause – sounds from specific sites with their own peculiar resonance and significance leak through the K-Space mesh into the listening present.

This layering and the filtering through of discrete geographic and temporal occasions compounds that superimposition already at work in the trio, the piling up and overlap of intense personal experience. Chamzyryn, a bona fide shaman and folk artist; Hodgkinson, academically trained in social anthropology, an exploratory rock musician, composer and radical improviser; Hyder, jazz drummer, free player, inveterate field worker in remote musical worlds. Chamzyryn brings his astonishing deep-vocal overtone singing and the trance tempo beat of his dungur shaman drum. Hodgkinson plays lap steel guitar and reeds. Hyder, heard drumming and singing, tells me that this music puts into practice “a whole lot of things we’ve learned over a very long time”. But that practical knowledge and acquired technique inhere in the substance of this remarkable montage; it’s never really a matter of who’s playing what or how. Other instruments feature; other sounds whose source is unclear.

K-Space offer an invitation to immersive listening, to jettison auditory compass, watch and map and plunge beyond familiar coordinates, into the openness, instability and fluidity of their singular music. Going Up layers episodes of instrumental, vocal and environmental sound activity to induce states of listening that don’t merely involve expectations being met. It creates its own contexts, shifting shape, juggling time, volatile with details realigning on each listen. And it carries the imprint of a lived world that admits fascination as well as intensity of physical experience.

The name K-Space refers to theories of Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kozyrev who argued that time is a conduit for energy. He developed a kind of time-machine, a spiral room which Hyder and Hodgkinson entered during their travels. Cast into darkness Hyder experienced a sensation of flying. Both men were moved at a level that they feel reluctant or unable to put into words. The scientist, it seems, was in pursuit of wisdom transmitted amongst shamans.

Arcane science, esoteric lore and its fallout in musical practice that departs from regulative norms prevailing even in much avant-garde Western music. It’s difficult to write of K-Space without sounding uncomfortably portentous. But it really does offer redress for the flimsy pretensions of the many market oriented cross-cultural hybrid musical confections that have been manufactured during the past few years. In his recent interview with Will Montgomery (The Wire 262) Hyder speaks from the inside of K-Space in ways that are entirely persuasive, restoring gritty credibility to the vocabulary of “spirit” while making a case for the excitements and revelations of creative disorientation. Far removed from the weightlessness of World Music impressionism and the sham of New Age flotsam Going Up, as Hyder rightly observes, approaches the condition of “total music”. The crucial thing is to hear and feel it. It’s made for those of us who want listening to remain a real adventure and an ongoing process of discovery.

Julian Cowley,  The Wire