This set of nine songs opens with the sound of a cimbalom – a 19th Century Hungarian instrument derived from the hammered dulcimer. Sparse, considered, piano notes counter its heavenly, and harp-like cascading, as the orchestration evolves to also embrace a bowed upright bass. The latter`s weeping ache adding a melancholy, the production pared back, stark, and powerful. Each “voice” captured in striking clarity, not least that of Romanian musician, Ana Stamp. Intimately mic`d Ana transforms these traditional pieces, collected and curated from her homeland, into truly beautiful dreamstate-like lullabies. As fragile as Vashti Bunyan, but possessing a primal, pagan, presence – something ancestral, that lurks deep within us. Similar, say, to Dead Can Dance`s sublime invocations, and interpretations of occult folk.
Spoken passages create an enchanted, erotically charged air. Her hushed poetry, a siren`s promise, a heady intoxicating spell. Conveying a, perhaps, doomed passion. Whispers between the only lovers left alive. Drawing comparison to Czech composer Luboš Fišer`s fairytale score for Jaromil Jireš` Valerie`s Week Of Wonders, while simultaneously conjuring the wild, isolated landscape that graces the album`s arresting cover. The cinematic, lyrical, narratives, that, naturally, I don’t understand, seem concerned with lives where the elements force a focus on simpler things, the changing of the seasons, life’s cycle, loss, and survival.
In places Ana is subliminal, but still there at the edges. A spirit, sprite, guiding a course through the shadows. Keeping close harmony with Jonny Nash`s expertly understated, uncomplicated, accompaniment, of sustain, hum, drone, and acoustic strum. Together the duo dancing a slow, seductive waltz. Amidst this ritual, Clouds Passing By, doubles for you-could-hear-a-pin-drop, spot-lit, jazz – a breath-taking blend of Lady Blackbird and Bremer McCoy. Backed by careful keys and contrabass, Ana, frankly amazing, conveying both love, and pain. Happiness – with the kind of holy gratitude reserved for gods – and sadness at its transience. By the closing, title, track, though, There Up Behind The Moon, a moment of lonely solo piano, Ana has evaporated into the aether, returned to the magickal realm whence she came.
Personally, these recordings feel partnered to Resina`s recent Speechless. Taking inspiration from similar lore and terrain. While Resina summons something dark, supernatural, possibly bestial, and beyond our ken, Jonny and Ana, here, provide a contrasting, human, light.
Melody As Truth release There Up Behind The Moon, digitally, today – with vinyl due in the spring of 2022.