The Master Musicians have always enthusiastically injected theatre into their music. With identities obscured by Tuareg clothes and Kali mask suggests ‘Totem 3’, this final part to their trilogy, is no exception.
Obscuring as a tool to reveal something else through absence is an intelligent poetic mechanism, because it pulls our attention away from the superficial surface, and by so doing draws us through the portal and into their soul, the very source of their transcendental music.
With egos sidestepped, the collective invocation from the band illicit imaginings from the listener about a hidden world, a world removed, untouched if you will, from the one most of us inhabit in the West. The sands of time carve a refuge, a hidden place, where Djinn walk the fire, giving utterance through flame, this is the place where Master Musicians become conduits, embodying a thoroughfare by which the spirits are invited to walk into our over sedated TV lives.
Solemn at times, their music with meditative pose manifests through sound an array of colour and light. Generating such emotional well being, while also giving room to ponder on memories lost in sandstorms, does occasionally threaten to turn spiritual contemplation into an easy listening new age experience.
Their musical influences may indeed stem from the East, nevertheless the overall effect retains a late 60s vibe, when many people were searching a spiritual explanation for existence. I, therefore, hear at least pieces emulating the sound of the Beatles and in particular Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera. Perhaps that’s the point? The Masters aren’t trying to convey an authentic sound in the same way as a musicologist would, and by so doing the western interpretation of eastern music is boldly highlighted in their arrangements. But for me at least this makes ‘Totem 3’ so much more impressive, especially given the individuals making up the collective, after all if they turned their collective mind to it they could blow holes in pretty much every other genre of music ever to have emerged from Seattle. Yet opting to play left field music by pitching an askew straight rock assemblage of meditative songs has resulted in a unique and beautiful creation.
Scribed by: Pete Hamilton-Giles