Alicia went out of town and I suddenly found myself in Brooklyn more times than I can count. This time my spirit was led to Art Cafe/Gureje during Brooklyn Raga Massive to experience the soothing sounds of Dana Leong‘s Tektonik. My friend and colleague is the music coordinator for the show I work on, as well as the music coordinator for my life. Recently we’ve started sharing music, trading opinions on lyrics, artists and musicians. So when she mentioned a live performance of Indian classical music, I had no reason but to trust her.
When we arrived to Art Cafe, I was positive we were at the wrong address. The outside looks like the aluminum siding you’d see on a garage, and once we walked into what we thought was the front door, we realized we were only on the front patio of the venue. After about thirty-seconds of confusion, we walked in on a small but appropriately packed room. With chairs facing the small stage and more than a few folks on the floor in the front, we were finally here. Sitting on stage, Val-Inc was on the turntables and electronics, Sameer Gupta was on the tabla, Neel Murgai was on the sitar and Dana Leong was on the cello. With a moving art image installation playing in the background and a quiet room, it was impossible to resist the musically-guided spiritual takeover.
Tektonik aims to unite the differences and meditative powers of different musical cultures and sounds. Tonight’s show was no different. The quartet performed various original pieces composed individually by each musician and even invited a trumpet player up to guest during one song. The best way I can describe how I felt is this – it was like drinking a cup of chai tea. There was a spicy bite to the sound of the sitar and even the electronic and tabla beats, but the smoothness of the cello is what made it all enjoyable. Being in a quiet and practically still room listening to the sounds of Tektonik, two things happened. 1) I was instantly reminded of all the relaxation music I underutilize but so desperately crave. 2) my belief in music as a healing and spiritual vessel was reinforced.
Dana’s “Amen,” a song he basically wrote in his sleep, was so powerfully moving. He described this song as a representation of why he loves music and a reminder of why he plays. It was clear to me, as a newbie, and audience member with zero previous attachment, that each musician was not only in tune with their own instrument, but with the sounds of the others that shared the stage. Tonight’s performance felt like a deep breath and an affirmation. It was refreshing to experience new instruments, new sounds and a new genre of music. And it confirmed for me the power music holds on my life. Without lyrics to get attached to, I allowed myself to surrender to a performance solely committed to the varying sounds of music.
RCS Takeaway: There was a guy sitting at a table to the left of us that was essentially DJ’ing the visual elements throughout the show. While the musicians played, he controlled the digital elements on the wall behind them. I was mesmerized. I think his name was Juice, but the way he created the visual back drop for the evening and illustrated the sounds we were hearing was unbelievable. *Updated: his name is Martin Gabor and you can check out his work here!