Momentary Prophets | Mandala

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Folk: Progressive Folk World: World Fusion Moods: Type: Acoustic
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by Momentary Prophets

Genre: Folk: Progressive Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Alaina's Shower
3:46 $0.99
2. C.C.M.E.
5:01 $0.99
3. the Boy that was Made
5:22 $0.99
4. Shadows Dance
5:17 $0.99
5. Stomp: For Her
5:37 $0.99
6. Warmth
4:40 $0.99
7. the Fox Song
6:35 $0.99
8. Sunflower
2:58 $0.99
9. Marching Men
3:57 $0.99
10. Lullaby
2:17 $0.99
11. Drawing the White
4:26 $0.99
12. Running
1:43 $0.99
13. Air
6:18 $0.99
14. Found
4:35 $0.99
15. Golden Slumber
2:59 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.



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Sarah Hall

Momentary Prophets: Mandala
When the Momentary Prophets share their music with an audience, they do so quite literally, regarding the listener as a vital and equal participant in the collaboration. And so it comes as no surprise to read in the liner notes to their new CD, “Mandala,” that “Momentary Prophets consists of Logan Byrd, Jake Hull, Ted Packard and You."

At their live shows, they draw listeners in, enfolding them auditorily and physically. They strive to connect with each individual. But can the trio translate that embrace into a recording?

The answer is: yes, they can, and they have, as evidenced in this latest CD offering.

The Sanskrit term “mandala” is a well-chosen title for this album. Band member Ted reflects, “I have found Mandala to mean circle, completion, and to indicate an image of the idea that is wholeness, oneness, but also (especially as can be seen in intricate Buddhist mandalas) the myriad of diversity that makes up that whole. The album is not about the singular wholeness represented by a mandala so much as it explores the more complete diversity that still arrives at the same destination.”

He also feels that the mandala image is appropriate due to the more collaborative nature of this album. Original members Ted and Jake had been the primary creators of the music since beginning as a duo in 2006. Logan came on board last year as bassist, and is now taking on a greater role with vocals and in composition.

“This album is more balanced and whole, circular, if you will, in each of our individual contributions and collaborations,” says Ted.

A mandala invites you to enter it mentally. Momentary Prophets’ musical Mandala leads you in, commencing with a restless chord seeking resolution, then beckoning you to join in the sonic journey. That trip includes exploring musical lines leading to unexpected destinations harmonically and rhythmically, before cadencing comfortably. Because isn’t that the best type of adventure — the kind that delivers you home safely?

At times, the music becomes therapeutically hypnotic. Even at its most dynamically-charged and emotional moments, it remains calm at its center.

There’s a flow throughout, but lest the listener become weary, there are times when the musicians seem to say, “sit and rest a while, and we’ll tell you a story.” Then they regale you with tales of a boy made of wood, and of a fox searching for her lover.

To say a band “defies categorization” has become almost the norm in the current inventive indie music scene. And an attempt to label the genre of Momentary Prophets would be a futile and unnecessary process for a band that seems unconcerned about trying to fit into a particular bin at a music store. They prefer to follow their hearts and ears into uncharted territory, combining East and West musically and philosophically, encompassing the familiar and the exotic.

The MoPros’ tools of choice in constructing this album were six- and 12-string guitars, banjo, sitar, mandolin, double bass, ashinko, tambourine, accordion, organ, kalimba, clarinet, ukulele, maracas, hand claps, singing bowl and singing voices—such delightful voices.

Their voices are offered as instruments, not relegating the other lines to mere accompaniment, but instead joining them and merging to the point sometimes where it can be difficult to separate vocal and instrumental sound. And there are moments so in tune with nature that the harmonics take on a life of their own, giving the aural impression of a larger group than what is actually producing the sound.

The only instrument provided by someone other than a Momentary Prophet is cello, performed expertly by Tommy Hunt, at the exact moments when such a sound was required.

The instruments are not limited to their expected styles and uses, but are employed in a unique fusion of East and West. In Jake’s hands, the banjo has transcended its American bluegrass connotation to become a universal instrument, and sitar embellishes and colors Western harmonies.

The double bass, as played by Logan, does more than provide a foundation. It is an active participant in constructing melodic counterpoint and creating musical effects. And multi-instrumentalist Ted completes the balanced triangle of sound.

All the tracks are unified by a dream-like quality, but with abundant moments that elicit the temptation to get up and dance. And there is plenty of variety. The songs venturing farthest afield stylistically are “Marching Men,” where an accordion joined by a clarinet in the chalumeau register paints a Hebraic-tinged portrait of an Anne Frank-like scene; and “Lullaby,” which is Latin-flavored, incorporating a gentle habanera.

The CD is rich and rife with glorious effects, but I choose these moments to highlight and particularly admire: the steady crescendo of intensity in “The Boy that was Made” culminating in the words “cries to the heavens;” the banjo obbligato alternating with cascading vocal and instrumental lines that propel the joyous “Stomp: for Her;” the drama and instrumental tone painting in “Marching Men;” the astounding vocal play entirely on the syllable “la” in the opening of the composition “Running.”

And the entire song “Air,” which is a small masterpiece, musically, and in its sentiment: “Between us there is only air. The air we breathe is all the same.” Unison passages by the sitar, cello and vocals illustrate the sameness, then give way to amazing vocal harmonies on “the air we breathe” that I can only inadequately describe as sounding like the tonal expelling of wind through instrumental bellows, or a celestial concertina.

The Momentary Prophets’ ardent hope for us all is expressed early on, in the song C.C.M.E., as they sing “open your eyes and your mind and remember you’re free.” The phrase “open your eyes” becomes a mantra, sung imploringly in “The Fox Song,” gently in “Lullaby,” and represented by blindness and light in other songs.

The CD concludes with another lullaby, the instrumental “Golden Slumber.” Before that, the last lyrics uttered are “jai guru deva om,” paying homage simultaneously to the Beatles and the Eternal.

Along with Momentary Prophets, I urge you to accept their invitation to open your eyes, and your ears, and make Mandala part of your music collection.

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