Wanderlust is a CD that could have only been conceived and realized in New Orleans. The big easy's legacy as a port city meant that it was constantly importing new sounds from all over the globe. Many of these sounds are represented on the album, including Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, African, Spanish, European classical, Middle Eastern, Indian, American swing (both of the southern and northern varieties), hip-hop, rock, and electronic/experimental. Musicians in New Orleans have grown up and studied in this tradition, and as such, they are some of the most creative and versatile players in the world. There is also a strong sense of camaraderie between New Orleans musicians that is unlike any other music scene. All of the musicians know each other and regularly play with each other, regardless of what style of music or background they come from. This leads to very interesting and surprising combinations of players (as we find on Wanderlust). Yet with all of its innovative and creative energy, New Orleans is very much rooted in tradition. As such, Wanderlust features giants of the old guard of New Orleans music, in addition to the young lions of the new generation.
Wanderlust is also about the music world in 2012. A world shrinking day by day. Culture has been digitized; the farthest reaches of the world are at your very fingertips - from the street beat of a brass band in New Orleans ("Aetherea") to the hypnotic dances of Africa ("Wanderlust"). One can find folktales of anthropomorphizing the heavenly bodies ("Lonely Moon") or traversing the seedy underbellies of the world ("Interzone"). And yet, with such a rich history, this present moment in time is perhaps the most fascinating of all. It is a time of merciless war ("Dresden"), bloody revolutions ("Tehran"), and nuclear crisis ("Clouds"). We may turn our heads to the heavens for answers ("The Path of Arhuna"), but the only way forward is to work together as Brothers. - Cliff Hines on Wanderlust.
The music on Wanderlust:
1. Brothers - feat. Khris Royal (alto sax), Chris "Ciel Rouge" Carter (drum programming), Simon Lott (drum effects) [4:57] A song about unity, with a simple, singsong melody meant to transcend culture and boundaries.
2. Dresden Intro - feat. Helen Gillet (cello), Sebastian Figueroa (shortwave radio) [2:33] This is a brooding improvised classical piece between pianist Andrew McGowan and cellist Helen Gillet. They delicately dance around each other over a sea of shortwave radio transmissions and white noise wind sounds.
3. Dresden [6:00] A reflection on the 1945, WWII firebombing of Dresden, Germany. The melody is reminiscent of the nursery rhyme, "Ring Around the Rosie". It begins very soft, building with feedback guitar noise echoing in the background, climaxing with crashing drums and a wall of distortion underneath an angst-ridden guitar solo.
4. Tehran - feat. Helen Gillet (cello) and Simon Lott II (drum effects) [6:11] Inspired by the wave of revolution that spread across the world in 2011 (nicknamed the "Arab Spring" by the press). The song has an Arabic sound and feel, with a doumbek groove, Gillet's flowing melodies on cello and Hines' percussive, acoustic, oud-like guitar solos.
5. Wanderlust - feat. Bill Summers (assorted percussion), Kent Jordan (flute), Simon Lott II (drum effects) [2:40] The title track is a summation of the record's concept. It's a poem that asks the question, "how can one travel without ever moving?". The song borrows from many cultures simultaneously, with a guitar rhythm from Brazilian, and the percussion rhythm traveling from the Caribbean to Africa.
6. Aetherea - feat. James Singleton (bass), Michael Watson (trombone) and Rex Gregory (bass clarinet) [4:08] "Aetherea" is the most representative composition of New Orleans on Wanderlust. It features James Singleton, perhaps the Big Easy's most renowned bassist. It also features a captivating trombone solo by Michael Watson (evoking the New Orleans's brass band sound), as well as a piano solo from McGowan (in the style of such New Orleans piano legends as Jelly Roll Morton, James Booker, etc.).
7. Interzone - feat Simon Lott II (drum effects) [5:10] "Interzone" is a tune about the fictional location (of the same name) in William S. Burroughs's 1959 classic "Naked Lunch". It is a song about sex, drugs, and schizophrenia. The groove sporadically switches from a swing waltz to glitch rock. The piece climaxes with Thibodeaux's drum solo that leads into an intense metal/operatic melody.
8. Interzone Reprise - feat. Ashlin Parker (trumpet), Lloyd Dillon (spoken word) and Sebastian Figueroa (shortwave radio) [2:55] "Interzone Reprise" gives way to a 5/4 mariachi groove (reminiscent of Burroughs's time in Mexico) as the last chapter of "Naked Lunch" is read. Ashlin Parker takes a trumpet solo as paranoid spy codes leak through the radio.
9. Lonely Moon - feat. Sam Craft (violin) and Jack Craft, Helen Gillet (cello) [5:56] "Lonely Moon" is a folktale about the Moon's tragic love affair with the Earth. It features string textures in the style of a 50's pop ballad. While the melody evokes Middle-Eastern harmony, the rhythms of the song shift from a ballad to light bossa nova, ending in a bombastic Afro-Cuban 6/8 feel.
10. Clouds - feat. Rex Gregory (soprano sax), Sam Craft (violin), Jack Craft (cello) [4:55] "Clouds" is a song about nuclear crisis in Japan (both the Hiroshima/Nagasaki tragedy of 1945 and the Tsunami of 2011). It has a constant sense of urgency and danger. It once again features strings, in addition to an intense soprano solo from Rex Gregory. The song ends in an odd-metered rock feel with a heavily effected guitar solo from Hines.
11. Arjuna Intro - feat. Dave Easley (slide guitar) and Andrew McLean (tabla), [2:37] "The Path of Arjuna Intro" is a brief raga that features Dave Easley on slide guitar (with a sitar bridge as a slide), Andrew McLean on tabla, and Hines on ebow guitar/loops. It is a moment of reflection before the final piece.
12. The Path of Arjuna - feat. Khris Royal (alto sax), Sam Craft (violin), Jack Craft (cello), Sebastian Figueroa (Line 6 DL4), Rex Gregory (bass clarinet), Ashlin Parker (trumpet), Michael Watson (trombone) and Simon Lott II (drum effects) [12:04]
"The Path of Arjuna" is a song about the life and death of a warrior. The lyrics allude to several proverbs from the Hindu holy book, "The Bhagavad Gita". After the melody and guitar solo, the music breaks down to an ambient two-chord progression. This section builds as instruments are added one by one, ending in a triumphant drum solo. The melody returns briefly before devolving into a minimalist two-chord progression that breaks apart and gives way to a quiet ambient soundscape, representing the warrior's passage into the afterlife.
The Wanderlust Tour:
January 6 - Drom, NYC
January 15 - Snug Harbor, New Orleans, LA
January 17 - The Brick, Kansas City, MO
January 20 - Cervantes' Other Side, Denver, CO
January 24 - The Boom Boom Room, SF, CA
January 25 -The Mint, Los Angeles, CA
January 26 - Flagstaff Brewery, Flagstaff, AZ
January 27 - Tucson, AZ (venue & details TBA)
January 29 - The Deli, Norman, OK