CD Pipa from a Distance (CD 963743),
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Pipa from a Distance

  • Disc 1
    1. Invocation
    2. Dancing!
    3. Ancient Spirits
    4. Walking to the East
    5. Shanghai Blues
    6. Vincent's Tune
    7. White Crane Flying
    8. Ambushed Again
    9. Bamboo Dreams
    10. From a Distance
    11. (Untitled) - (hidden track)

  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 76037

  • Credits

    Personnel: Wu Man (pipa); Abel Domingues (guitar, banjo, sample); Stuart Dempster (trombone, slide, whistle, didjeridu); DJ Tamara (turntables, samples).
    Recorded at The Shine Box, New York, New York.
    An album of extraordinarily exploratory pipa music from the main ambassador of the instrument to the West, Wu Man. Here, there is a definite aspect of traditional pipa music present, but that's only the jumping-off point. There's some thorough culture-mixing as a didgeridoo is tossed in here and there. Some heavy updating of the ancient forms stands throughout, as Man's old pipa is accompanied by e-bow guitars, turntables, and beat machines throughout. In the extremely stunning "Shanghai Blues," she takes the pipa electric, nearly summoning Hendrix in her effects as she goes on extended solos. Tablas come into play in "White Crane Flying," setting the mood over the trombone and pipa work that makes the basis of the piece. In "Vincent's Tune," some straightforward art music is presented, complete with a toy piano, bicycle horn, and shrieking. To say that the album is interesting is to make a large understatement. Despite the obvious pitfalls that an artist can get caught in when updating an ancient form with electronica and modern art music sensibilities, the album here works out surprisingly well. Often, it finds itself in a relatively simple groove, la Mickey Hart's Planet Drum albums. For the purists out there, Man does provide a pair of solo pipa efforts, both new compositions bearing the marks of an improvisatory look into more modern ideas, but still leaving more than enough room for her to display her full virtuosity with ease. For those who shun the newest movements in world music, her older albums are probably a safer bet. For those interested in what can be done when electricity meets the old forms, this is an outstanding album to pick up. ~ Adam Greenberg

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