Woven Talon are a musical collective guided by composer Andrew Tumason of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The band creates highly cinematic world music soundscapes through different acoustic arrangements and ensembles. Each album continues to tell an ever-evolving story titled the Kahu Takaya Story. This is a journey with Ruca, Grandfather Owl, deep into the Indigo Dunes. The collective records each album in a different country, featuring local artists and musicians for each chapter, with the first part being recorded in New Zealand and the second between New Zealand and Santa Fe.
Hajiko was recorded in Byron Bay, Australia, at a studio in the rainforest near the ocean shores. Collaborating with Australian artists Djulz Chambers on percussion, Cye Wood on violin (Cave in the Sky), Brandon Cassidy on “wooden machines” (Black Rainbow), and Christian Pyle on analog electronics.
Hajiko is a stunning sonic journey that traverses numerous landscapes as it unfurls before the listener. There’s a real beauty to the music on display here, not just in sound, but also in energy and concept. While there are actually quite a few elements on the display it never feels this way. There’s a simplicity and an ease with which the music flows, ensuring that it never feels overcrowded or smothered. Each element is allowed to breath and for the listener that means that each can be absorbed and enjoyed both individually and collectively.
Andrew Tumason’s voice is easily one of my favourite elements on the album. There’s just something about it that I find incredibly soothing and entrancing. There’s a smoothness to it that allows it to meld seamlessly into the music itself and yet it simultaneously stands out from the mix and captures your attention. He manages to express so much without any need for lyrics, his captivating ritualistic/spiritual vocals are all that the music requires.
The violin, viola and piano operate in a league of their own in regard to the level of emotion that they bring to the mix. They deliver everything from subdued moments of melancholy through to truly stunning, rousing crescendo. The aforementioned vocals pair so well with these moments; however, Andrew changes his delivery style to suite the overall tone of the music. Ruca is a perfect example of this and is easily one of the most stunning tracks on the album and well worth your time.
Andrew adapts his vocals to each style of music presented on the album, for instance in the more spiritually driven world music segments he sounds completely different to the string and key driven parts. Both the music (which is primarily made up of shaker and various percussive instruments such as dunuba and kuma djembe) and his vocals take on a more esoteric quality that’s hard to put into words. Guri is an excellent example of this, along with Indiwa.
Some tracks combine the two worlds, mixing keys and strings with more world influenced sounds and energy. Jhiko is a perfect example of this and manages to express the emotion of the piano alongside Andrew’s more ethereal vocals, shakers and percussive instruments. This track is completely mesmerizing and has been played regularly since I first heard it two weeks ago.
Overall, the whole album is a truly captivating piece of music. It’s a breath of fresh air that stands out as unique among many of the other album’s I’ve listened to lately. My main piece of advice is to surrender to the music on this one, enjoy it from start to finish in one sitting and focus all of your attention on it; I guarantee you will be rewarded.