On a cold and busy post-holiday season night in which we turn around looking for a friendly face, or for a sign of humanity in this high-techno dehumanized big-city flow…I’m closing my eyes and opening my ears to Gabriela Arnon’s sounds coming from her third, newly released album “Pyramid Lake”.
This extraordinary singer, songwriter and a pianist who grew up in Manhattan under the auspices of the Off-Off-Off Broadway Theatre scene of the 1970s had studied classical music and jazz before she became a world globe-trotter and toured the Americas with salsa giants such as Willie Colon and Ruben Blades only to continue her exploration of sound with Christoph Mueller (of Gotan Project) in Paris. She not only formed with him a nomadic trip-hop-art-rock band (Ten Mother Tongues) which resulted in their CD “The Listening Tree” but also decided to stay in Europe, endowing the local sound with her acoustic , American experience, rich in warm, personal musings. Soon after,she formed her trio with a songwriter/singer HT Roberts and a percussionist Niels Delvaux (with De Maeseneer on saxes and Bart Maris on trumpet) , an unusual experience which combines acoustic and organic sounds, as exemplified on her second album “Trouble With Park Avenue”.
Her third, wildly contemplative cum romantic work, “Pyramid Lake” summarizes, in a way, all her previous experience and yet its freshness and “innocence regained” in the most spiritual sense of that expression attest to a new turning in Arnon’s career. What to say about someone who has successfully collaborated on various levels with the artists such as Paul Aston, Karel Beer, La Bergère, Sal Bernardi, Ruben Blades, Chochana Boukhobza, Thierry Bouyer, Soledad Bravo, Rodolph Burger, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Ronnie Caryl, Matthias Clark, Philippe Cohen-Solal, BJ Cole, Willie Colon, Djelly Moussa Condé, Lemmy Constantine, Brian Cullman, Niels Delvaux, Janice De Rosa, Diblo Dibala, Fima Ephron, The Five O’Clock Jazz group, Stephane Furic, Peter Giron, John Greaves, Stéphane Guéry, Theo Hakola, Gijs Hollebosch, Marten Ingle, Nick Jury, John Lester, Tony Leone, Gary Lukas, Luis Marquez, Fiona McBain, Danny Montgomery, Christoph H. Mueller, Stéphane Missri, Tiberio Nascimiento, Glen Patscha, Renaud Gabriel Pion, Vic Pitts, Laurence Revey, HT Roberts, Barry Rogers, Roland Romanelli, Julie Saury, Tonton Didou, Nibs Van Der Spuy, Arne Van Dongen, Jasmine Vegas, Geraint Watkins, Ben Werbolowski, George Wolfhaardt, Gabriel Yacoub, Catherine Zeeta-Jones..? Useless to keep on counting all the precious encounters in a life of an accomplished musician…
However, it’s worth noticing that all Arnon’s different sounds resulting from these eclectic and highly professional experiences with other artists magically fuse into the melancholic staccato of her “Pyramid Lake”. Gabriela is an ecological fighter who would like to preserve the Earth intact (hear her Persephone’s Field or The Seed) and she sings our worries for the disappearing water quite loud. She is also a Calypso queen who dances her salsa vocally in “Queen of the May”, or an African shamanic healer-woman who drones away our destiny in “Maiden, Mother, Crone”.
The expressionist strain in Arnon’s musical upbringing will bring us eventually to a profound sigh and yearning for the infinite in her last track, no.11, entitled “Far Beyond Our Little Gallaxy”. In that privileged space, reserved for very few contemporary artists /composers who have had a long career and who create that particular musical experience which makes us think that “all the rest is noise”, dwells the creative effort of “Pyramid Lake”. It is fresh, and easy, but it moves us- to think: about the world as an inner but also a committed and outer experience, difficult to pass by. Yes, Gabriela Arnon is on the path of Baez and Zara Leander .. and her claim to fame is yet to be made in the years to come.
By Nina Zivancevic