“He who is swimming against the stream comes to the Source.”
- Gottfried Müller
To experience music that completely immerses the listener in the soul of the composer is one of life’s rare privileges. To hear that composer stretch beyond all previous work is indeed inspiring. Because this CD is a seminal work, it transforms its listeners with subtle and evocative invitations into the depths of being. It takes flight on the atmospheric edges of night and lands on a plum orange horizon before sunrise. It’s as personal as a secret dream and as universal as the changing seasons.
The album “Centerpeace” is the culmination of Andrew York’s latest creative chapter of spiritual expression. It is a collaborative work with Allaudin Mathieu, Mitsuko Kado, and Andy Summers. Together, they weave an interpenetrating web of dances within dances, movements of melodic thought and wordless declarations. Each piece illuminates the heart. Put together, they are a mellifluous gem, scintillating and liquid, delivered from the deepest places of uninhibited creativity.
“Sakura Perspectives” introduces us to the garden. Andrew York and Mitsuko Kado spin cherry blossoms into a kaleidoscopic reverie with six variations of the famous Sakura folk song from Japan. Each episode offers a unique perspective on the well-known melody. As one piece, it symbolizes the ephemeral peculiarity of time, the delicate nature of the flower, and the essence of change.
Sprinkled along the botanical path are eleven improvisations by Andrew York and Allaudin Mathieu. These pieces were recorded out in the country near Sebastopol, California in one evening, during the pouring rain. Andrew and Allaudin extemporaneously recorded for an hour and a half. Most of the improvisations had no rules or restrictions. They just played. Andrew said later, “The pieces came out so ordered as to feel almost telepathic.”
Of the eleven improvisations, only two had any structure agreed upon beforehand. “Todi” is built on an Indian morning raga of the same name. The scale used here is constructed by taking a minor triad, adding a half step above and below the root, and a half step above and below the fifth. Andrew and Allaudin agreed to trade four bars of G todi with four bars of B todi. In “Mbira,” they structured to switch back and forth between two modes, F phrygian and E lydian. The result is the sonic equivalent of an ever-shifting field of flowing teardrop petals and falling confetti.
At the center of the wildflower meadow, stands a royal magnolia. The proud queen of the grounds is an enigma and a contrarian. Except for four low B notes added from a Bösendorfer, “Centerpeace” is the only piece on the album without piano. Andrew York and guitarist Andy Summers recorded “Centerpeace” in July of 2009, over the course of two afternoons in Andy’s studio in California. It is the first piece they ever recorded together. It led them to later record “Spirit Garden”, an entire CD of just the two of them.
The mystical garden holds two solo piano pieces along its Buddhistic walkways. The first, “Pray and Dance,” is a solo piano piece Andrew York composed for Mitsuko Kado. It is in three parts without any pauses to separate the sections. The first movement is a prayer, filled with yearning and contemplation, solemness and reverence. The second section is a dance which releases in physicality that which was willed spiritually. It erupts with color and chaos in relentless liberation characterized by every note. Finally, prayer and dance merge combining the physicality of dance with the metaphysicality of prayer, bringing together the two polarities of being. In truth, every piece of this garden exists within this divine dichotomy.
As we leave the garden, “Canticle” smiles at us. We are in the heart of a new friend. Mitsuko Kado perfectly captures the spirit and compelling simplicity of this warm piece.
“Centerpeace” is the kind of album that stays with you forever. Its melodies are the melodies of nature. Its rhythms are the rhythm of life. Its effect is as haunting as the midnight sky, and as tender as a baby’s gurgle. Its truth is as loud as a beating heart, and as quiet as a drifting cloud. “Centerpeace” is what Love is. As such, it wishes for your eternal fulfillment, warmth, joy, compassion, and blessings. May peace be with you.
- notes by Victory Mori