MUSIC REVIEW: Taken by thirty3

by TRAVIS HARE

I was pretty sure I was going to hate “Rare, the Kafi Kanada Sessions.”

The new album by Takoma Park duo thirty3 is “a melding of sitarist Jay Kishor’s guitar playing with Savana Moore’s piano,” according to their website.

“New Age” alarms went off in my brain.

Yet I was taken with this music. Even the spreadsheets I was working on took a mystical quality as I listened. I found myself replaying it and replaying it—and not just at work—getting lost in music that doesn’t so much meander as explore.

The three songs, or movements really (all well over 20 minutes), come from a darker, smokier place than any music I would define as New Age. A rock guy at heart, I found it more akin to the quieter side of bands like God Speed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky.

While the music here is inspired by “Kafi Kanada,” “a rare and ancient Indian raga,” the electric guitar and piano add depth and allow Kishor and Moore to explore a lot of territory. Most of the music feels akin to jazz and even R&B. The musicians trade off in terms of who is providing the structure with the other instrument adding its own signature.

All three songs are improvised. Knowing this lends an intimate quality to the music. It feels as though you are listening to a passionate conversation that you were not supposed to hear. These works are hypnotic and sexy—each finding a way to build to a quiet crescendo in their own time, before sighing and settling luxuriantly back into place.

Listen to the album here.

Travis Hare